Simply Books answers

Accountancy Age Award Winning software

Everyone has questions – that’s natural. Hopefully the answers will be here.

If not, then you can phone or email us.

Questions often asked by people thinking of using Simply Books

Questions often asked by users of Simply Books

Questions often asked by accountants whose clients use Simply Books

Questions often asked before buying Simply Books

Click the question to reveal the answer.

Who is Simply Books suitable for? I’ve seen it says it’s ‘suitable for non-accountants’ – to what extent is this true?

You certainly don’t have to be an accountant or book-keeper to use Simply Books. The vast majority of our customers are not.

Can I keep accounts for more than one business?


You can keep the accounts for any number of businesses.

Is there any restriction on the size of business that can use the software?

The only material restriction is that the software is single user.

So if you need more than a full time book-keeper, you’ve hit the size limit. In terms of file sizes and so on, there is no restriction.

What time is the help line staffed?

9.30am to 5.30pm, five days a week.

What won’t Simply Books do?

Simply Books does not do:

  • payroll
  • stock control
  • ordering
  • cost/job centres
How long will it take me to learn Simply Books?

This is one of those impossible to answer questions, but we have this rule of thumb:

  • By the end of month 1 you should have got a pretty good feel of it, and be suspecting that it’s going to be OK
  • By the end of month 2, even if there are one or two things you're not a hundred percent confident with, you'll know you've made the right choice of book-keeping system.
  • By the end of month 3 you should be over the hill, modestly confident and recommending it to your friends.

Questions often asked by users of Simply Books

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How do I print invoices?

You need the latest version (or any version after SR3) to print invoices.

Why do I have to use F12 all the time?

Computer screens come in a wide variety of sizes or resolutions.

F12, which expands a form sideways, was designed so that people with small screens (low resolution) wouldn't be continually having forms open inconveniently wide. So if you've got a big screen you're suffering because of all those small screens still in use.

Nevertheless our apologies. We didn’t expect the volume of response that we have got about F12. We’ll do something about this in the next major release. Meanwhile, please bear with F12.

If I don't have Excel and Word can I export my data and reports?

Yes you can.

You can export to any spreadsheet that (jargon warning) understands ‘tab delimited fields’, which probably covers every spreadsheet in the world, and to any word processor that understands ‘rich text format’.

Instead of using the ‘Option 3: MS Excel’ use the ‘Option 5: Export Tab Delimited’.

If you want your spreadsheet program to open automatically when the report is exported, change the Tools Options setting on the Advanced page so that ‘Export Reader Program = ’ references the folder and program name for your spreadsheet.

For alternative word processor packages, still send the report to 4: MS Word — Word won’t actually start if you don’'t have it, but the file is, in any case, in ‘rich text format’ and can probably be read by your word processor.

You’ll find the file in the ‘Reports’ sub-folder where you installed Simply Books (by default - c:\program files\simply books).

If you are not fairly confident with computers, you will probably find it easier to buy a copy of Word and Excel or get a copy of Open Office (open source and free) which will handle the same files.

Can I have more than one cheque book for an account?

Yes. If you have two cheque books on the go at once for one bank account, you need to work with more than one cheque book in Simply Books.

Or if your bank sends you cheque books before you need them, and you find yourself working with a later one before an earlier one, you will need to do this.

Good instructions for how to do this are rather longer than will fit here, but they are all contained in the online help material. In the online help index, look for ‘cheque book’ and ‘using more than one cheque book’, and click on the link you’ll find on the bottom of the initial page you are directed to.

What is the significance of the fact that I can make entries without filling in all the fields? How can I find such entries later?

There will be many occasions when you’re doing your accounts for real when you find you don’t have all the information to make a full entry.

Your boss – or you – may have forgotten to write in the date on a cheque stub, etc. Nothing is worse than having this kind of thing hold you up, so Simply Books allows you to leave entries blank and come back to them later.

The most common problem is not knowing how to categorise something. As with the other fields the category or account fields can be left blank. This should at some later date be filled in, if your accounts are to be complete.

Use ‘Edit > Find’ to find what Simply Books terms ‘incomplete’ entries. For full instructions consult the online help index, look for ‘incomplete entries’ and ‘checking for’.

Is there any special procedure to follow when I modify entries, or delete them?

No, just do it.

If you try to modify or delete entries outside your allowed range of dates (the ‘from’ and ‘to’ dates, see Tools > Options), you will be given a hefty warning.

When I enter a paying in slip with more than one cheque, is there a special way of doing it?

There isn’t a special way of doing it, but a number of people have got it wrong.

They have entered two lines in the paying in book form if they have two cheques being paid in on one paying in book slip. This works OK, but is not the easiest way to do this.

You should treat this situation like any entry where you have to split the entry between different headings. Select ‘Forms > Transaction’ from the menu. Now you'll see a form on which you can enter one transaction (paying in slip in this case) with as many lines as you want (and see page 23 of the User Guide). This is the right way of doing it.

The advantage of doing it this way is that when you come to process your bank statement (or reconcile it) you will find the same figure on your list of receipts as you find on your statement.

The User Guide is very good, but at only 35 pages what does it miss out?

It misses out doing VAT returns and the end of year process. Consult the online help for these. Otherwise all day to day operations are included.

What are ‘depreciation, accruals and prepayments’?

Depreciation is what happens year by year as your car gets older and loses value. Prepayments are payments made in advance of receiving goods or services. Accruals are the reverse. All three of them are accounting devices to more accurately reflect your profitability.

Can you do Profit and Loss reports for specific months?

You can – indirectly.

You need to export the report to Excel or another spreadsheet. Run the report for, say, the end of March, and then for the end of April. Paste the figures into two columns in one spreadsheet, and in a third column subtract the March figures from April ones.

The VAT return printout looks like the VAT 100 form. Can I send it straight to the VAT authorities?


You should copy the figures from the printout to the VAT 100 form.

How do I uninstall Simply Books?

Click on Start > Programs > Simply Books > Uninstall.

There will be a small number of small files left in the directory Simply Books which you can safely delete if you wish.

Do not use Add/Remove Programs (in Control Panel). It won’t work.

What known software clashes are there?

There are minor clashes with Access (Simply Books is an Access based program itself).

These can be annoying if you’re not used to sorting out Access problems. If so, please phone us to help.

What do I do about disputed invoices?

There is no mechanism in Simply Books to mark invoices as ‘disputed’.

Our recommendation is as follows:

If a purchase invoice is disputed, sort out the dispute as quickly as possible and don't enter it onto the computer until it is sorted.

If a sales invoice is disputed, again sort it out as quickly as possible, but, in this case, you probably will have entered it on the computer. When you have sorted it out, enter a credit note for the full amount and enter a new invoice for the correct amount.

Questions often asked by accountants about Simply Books

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Have accountants approved Simply Books?

The Chartered Institute of Accountants – the senior body in the country – have accredited the software.

This means that they have thoroughly tested it against a standard they have been applying for many years now.

Does Simply Books work on double-entry principles?


Why are the debits on the left?

The debits are on the left because most bank accounts issue statements with debits (from the customer’s point of view) on the left. So it’s easier if we show bank statements like this too and, for consistency, other forms with two columns of figures.

How are invoices matched against payments?

They are matched by date, automatically. In other words, any payment is matched against the oldest outstanding invoices.

What VAT schemes does Simply Books cater for?

The standard VAT scheme, the cash VAT scheme and flat rates.

How does Simply Books implement the Cash VAT scheme?

Put concisely, if you are registered for the Cash VAT scheme you incur a debt with, or are due a refund from Customs and Excise only when your credit accounts are actually paid.

Simply Books deals with this by calculating the VAT in the normal way (ie according to the date of invoices both paid and unpaid) and then by making a deferral equal to the VAT on the invoices that have not been paid.

On each purchase or sales ledger account there can be one invoice that has been partly paid. In this case the deferral includes a proportion of that invoice’s VAT equal to the unpaid proportion of the invoice. In the following VAT period, the deferral is reversed before the process is repeated.

How do Simply Books users send their accounts to me at the end of the year?

They can send you a disc with a backup file – this assumes you have Simply Books on to which to restore the backup.

Or they can send you printouts (hard copy or in Excel or other format). Suitable printouts for the year end would normally include Trail Balance, Purchase, Sales and Adjustments Day Books, and a bank reconciliation.

Accountants who have not got a copy of Simply Books are entitled to a free copy for the purpose of handling their client’s data.

How do you post journals in Simply Books?

There are two ways. You can use whichever you prefer, but one method is particularly suited for ad hoc adjustments like debt write offs, and the other more suited to formal end of year adjustments. See the online help for instructions.

Can Simply Books be used to run a bureau service?


Bureau services use Simply Books because simplicity and efficiency go hand in hand, and Simply Books is very efficient. If you charge by the job rather than by the hour you can greatly increase your profitability.

The second bit of good news is that the Simply Books licence covers multiple client businesses. The licence is for one computer, so only if your bureau has lots of book-keepers and lots of machines will you need to get more than one licence.

Simply Books - Accounting for very small businesses