What is Unit of Measure?

Unit of Measure is a Preference within the QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions and QuickBooks Premier that allows for Items to be entered using the manner they are shipped and then sold at different units. As an example, an inventory item is purchased by the foot, but sold by the inch or a gallon of liquid is purchased, but sold by the pint. Unit of Measure allows for tracking for this type of purchasing and selling.


Turning on the Preference for Unit of Measure:


  • Go to Edit on the top menu bar
  • From the drop down list, select Preferences


  • Select Items & Inventory
  • Select Company Preferences
  • Check mark
    • Inventory and purchase orders are active
    • All other check boxes are optional
  • Click on the Enable button near the bottom
  • Select the Unit of Measure that will work best for your company


Note: Choosing the correct Unit of Measure is important. Later I will discuss how to make a change to this selection if needed.

Single Unit of Measure Per Item:

This is the selection to make if the company stocks, sells, and purchases an item that will not be broken down and sold in any other size. If an item is purchased by the gallon or foot, resold by the gallon or foot, then this is the correct selection for Unit of Measure.

Important Note: When creating your items for your Items List, if a purchase will be made for even one item that will sell in a different size then what it is purchased, you must select the Multiple Unit of Measure in QuickBooks. So, the gallon I mentioned before is purchased, but it should be sold in pints. This would require a Multiple Unit of Measure to setup.

Multiple Unit of Measure Per Item:

When purchasing, stocking or selling items that need to be changed to a different size, Multiple Unit of Measure should be selected. If the list is combined by items that are changed to different sizes before selling and items that do not change, this is, again, the option to select. Let’s say you purchase an item that comes 48 to a case, but you sell these as one each, this is would require a Multiple Unit of Measure selection.

  • After reading the above, select the Unit of Measure that you will use for your items
  • Click Finish

Note: When creating your items, select the down arrow to add the specifics for the Unit of Measure. This is in a Wizard form. Follow the Wizard to complete your item setup.

Changing the Unit of Measure:

Note: There are certain times that changing the Unit of Measure is needed. Most of the time, in the case of a new item to use Unit of Measure, the creation of a new unit would be the preferred method.

Considerations when changing an items Unit of Measure:

Changing the base unit can cause a great deal of of difficulty with Inventory items or assemblies. This can cause the quantity on hand and the cost information on those items to not report correctly. this will cause a problem with the financial accuracy within the QuickBooks program. When changing the base unit for a Service, Non-inventory part or Group item and this will not affect the accuracy of information within the program.

As an example of what happens when changing an Inventory item, lets say that the company has 200 yards of electrical wiring in stock. The base unit is changed to feet. At this point, the 200 would have to be changed to 600 for accuracy (200 yards would equal 600 feet). The cost of this item would also have to be changed to 0.25 per foot because a yard will cost 0.75. As noted above, it would be more affective to create a new item with a new Unit of Measure, and make the old item inactive.

Another thing to be mindful of when changing to a different unit, is if you do not create a new item all of the old units will appear in brackets (such as [yd.]) in line items of all transactions that have happened before the unit was changed.

Other items to be careful with when using Unit of Measure are Service items that track Time. If you change a time-based unit and are tracking time within QuickBooks, understand that if the unit is anything but an hour that the rate calculations when tracking time will be inaccurate. QuickBooks tracks time only in hour increments.

Why do the Units of Measure look different on different forms?

This will depend on how the Unit of Measure is defined. If using the same unit for a Service item as opposed to Inventory, the same unit will look different on the different forms with in QuickBooks. You can open the Unit of Measure set by editing the Unit of Measure Set window. This will allow you to see the base unit and defaults for purchases, shipping units and sales.