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I commonly group purchases or invoices into transactions and then show the individual components as splits in gnucash. I don't know if this is the right approach, but suppose I go shopping, I might do something like this:

Transaction: Shopping

  • Split: Apples (Account: Fruit)
  • Split: Nutella (Account: Confectionary)

Then when I go to the Confectionary account, it would be great to see how much I spent on Nutella, but instead all I see is a bunch of "Shopping" transactions (because I only see the description of the transaction in the ledger).

I see two workarounds, neither of which are very satisfying:

  1. View -> Transaction Journal. This isn't great because now when I look at the ledger I see all shopping splits. I just want the split relevant to the account I'm looking at.
  2. Split out into separate transactions. I can do this but it's a pain and I also like to attach invoices to my transactions. If I do this I'd have to attach the invoice to every split, which duplicates work and seems messy, not to mention incorrect from an accounting perspective (they weren't really separate transactions, where they?).

I'm after a technical solution here but also some guidance on how this kind of problem should be solved in gnucash as well as accounting more generally.

Note that a similar feature request was made 9 years ago. Given that this hasn't been resolved I assume there's some good workaround out there. I'd love to hear it!

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The amount of detail that you can get in your GnuCash reports depends partly on the amount of effort that you expend in detailed input.

For my own records, I have an expense account called Expenses:Groceries, and when I come home from the supermarket most (sometimes, all) of my spending gets recorded against that single category. It simplifies the input into GnuCash, but it does mean that I can't get any reports on my spending on Bananas, or Corn Flakes, or Toilet Paper.

If you want more detail to be available, you could create subcategories like

        Expenses:Confectionery:Chocolates
        Expenses:Confectionery:Lollies
        Expenses:Confectionery:Nutella

With more work when inputting your purchases, you will be able to get more detailed info out of the system.

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  • Hi Greg, thanks for your answer. My question is about seeing the detail of individual transactions within a split. I think you might be answering a different question. – quant Apr 19 at 2:13
  • Hi quant, I'm not sure what you mean by "individual transactions within a split". Splits are individual lines within a transaction. You can use the Find tool to identify all transactions with the word "Nutella" in the Description or Memo fields, but you're probably going to have to manually add all the amounts for Nutella to get your Nutella spending total. Unless you made Nutella an expense account of its own, in which case reporting on that Nutella account would immediately give you the Nutella spending info for any period that you like. – Greg Schmidt Apr 19 at 4:29
  • I just want to see the description of the split item relevant to the account I'm looking at. For example, if you have a transaction with splits for confectionary, I'd want to see the confectionary item description when I go to that account. Instead I see the description for the transaction, which doesn't really make sense because the amount is for the split. – quant Apr 19 at 12:53
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    So if I spent $10 on my shopping transaction (titled, say "groceries"), and $5 is attributed to a split in the confectionary expense account titled Nutella , then when I go to the confectionary account I would expect to see an item with a description "Nutella" with a value of $5. But instead I see "groceries" with a value of $5 which isn't very helpful. I have to then expand the split and find my Nutella item in there to figure out where the cost came from. It's very counterintuitive. It would be better just to see the description of the "Nutella" split. – quant Apr 19 at 12:56
  • Yes. Your latest post correctly describes the way that GnuCash displays the part of a transaction relevant to the account register that you're looking at. I don't know of any configuration change that a user can make to cause GnuCash to display it differently, and I don't expect that the developers will re-write the code. – Greg Schmidt Apr 19 at 15:27
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  1. Open Confectionary Account

  2. Report->Account Report

  3. Look for Nutella in the Memo Column

  4. Copy and Paste to Excel

  5. Filter on Memo Column if necessary

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I have the same request as quant. I use the Memo field for each split entry. The answer provided by base64 works and provides what I need, but requires a couple of steps, where, with an option, that same information could show up directly in the account register. Currently, all other split entries for this transaction also show up in the selected account register when using auto-split option in View.

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