Memo fields abound in QuickBooks. In fact, even if it doesn't appear so at first, most QuickBooks transaction forms actually have multiple memo fields. I hadn't really given this much thought until recently. I created a transaction with a memo that didn't show up on a report where I expected it, so I started investigating. If you know a little bit about accounting, what I discovered will make perfect sense to you.
Although Intuit goes out of their way to hide it, QuickBooks is a true double-entry accounting system. That means that every transaction has at least 2 parts. For example, when you write a check to pay your rent, you decrease the amount of money in your checking account and increase the Rent expense account. The Write Checks screen has two memo fields, one on the face of the check and one on the line item detail.
The memo on the face of the check is associated with your checking account. It appears in your checking account register and in reports that show activity in the checking account, such as a Check Detail Report. The line item memo is associated with the Rent expense account. It appears in reports that show activity in the Rent expense account, such as a Profit and Loss Detail Report.
Here's a table that shows the memo location and the account that it is associated with for common transaction types.
As noted in the table, there are a few transaction forms that only have one memo field. In those cases, the same memo text is associated with both parts of the transaction. The same is true if you are entering transactions directly in a register where there is only one memo field.
Memo fields associated with the Accounts Receivable account, such as those on the bottom of invoices, appear on customer statements and (if you customize the columns) in Customer Center. See the February 2010 article "Customizing the Customer Center" for more information.
If you set the Company Checking preference "Autofill payee account numbers in check memos", QuickBooks will automatically add any account numbers found on the Additional Information tab of the Vendor and Customer records to the memo field in the Write Checks windows and to the memo field on Bill Payment Checks.
If you add your own memo to a bill, the account number will still appear on the check, but your memo will be associated with the Accounts Payable account and show up on related reports. If you need to change what appears on a Bill Payment Check, you will need to open the Bill Payment and edit the memo field before printing. Note: if you pay multiple bills for the same vendor with a single check, no memo prints on the bill payment check unless you edit it before printing.
As with the Customer Center and Accounts Receivable transactions, you can customize the Vendor Center to display the memo fields associated with the Accounts Payable account.
And finally, you can customize the columns in the Bank/Credit Card Reconciliation window to show the memo field (look for the "Columns to Display" button at the bottom right).