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Algebraic Expressions as Memo Field Quantities

As described in another article, ManagePLUS for QuickBooks lets you optionally enter quantities in the Memo field of your transactions.

But in addition to entering numbers, you also have the option of entering algebraic expressions. We're not talking Calculus here...but more like the high school math that you thought you'd never need again!

Using an algebraic expression sometimes lets you store more information in a transaction than would be possible by just entering a number.

Hay-by-the-Bale Example

Suppose you market small square bales of hay, usually selling small quantities (i.e., a pickup truck load) priced by the bale and larger quantities priced by the ton. However, you record all hay quantities in tons, to have a common quantity unit for all hay sales. So when selling by the bale, you estimate the weight per bale as a way to estimate the tonnage sold.

In the following QuickBooks deposit, the first deposit item is for a load of hay sold by the bale and the second is for a load sold by the ton. (The Memo field is highlighted in green.)

The first deposit item uses an algebraic expression to record the sale of 50 bales of hay at an (estimated) weight of 55 pounds per bale). We could have just as easily entered the correct tonnage as a number (50 * 55 / 2000 = 1.375 tons). But using an algebraic expression is easy, and if we later look through a list of hay sales transactions we could easily tally the average number of bales being sold in small-quantity loads.

Algebraic Expression Ground Rules

(Here's the part about that high school algebra you thought you'd never need again.)

Here are the mathematical operations allowed in ManagePLUS, grouped by order of their mathematical precedence. (When operations from different groups are encountered in an expression, operations from groups listed higher in the table are performed before those listed lower in the table.)

^ Exponentiation
* Multiplication
/ Division
! Factorial
+ Addition
- Subtraction

NOTE #1:  ( ) Parentheses may be used to control the order of operation, and may be nested to any level. Using parentheses is always a good idea if you're unsure about the order of operations in an expression.

NOTE #2:  ALWAYS enclose a factorial operation in parentheses. For example (5!)*3 not 5!*3.

Farm Business Expression Examples

You'll seldom need to use complicated expressions. Here are a few typical examples of mathematical expressions of quantities you may encounter in farm business transactions.

  • Bushels of corn on a truck load:  (48000-17350)/56

    Pounds of gross weight minus pounds of tare weight, divided by pounds per bushel.
    (Parentheses are necessary, to make the subtraction be performed before the division.)

  • Units of Phosphate in 10.75 tons of 5-20-35 dry fertilizer:  (10.75/2000)*0.20

    Tons of fertilizer divided by 2000 pounds per ton (to calculate pounds), times 0.20 units per pound.

Mathematical Precedence Example

Most users won't need to enter very complicated expressions. But in case you do, here's an example using three different levels of mathematical precedence from the table above.


In this expression 3^2 is evaluated first since the ^ operator has the highest precedence. The result is 9. The expression is then simplified to 1+2*9. 2*9 is evaluated next, again, in order of higher precedence. The result, 18, is then substituted in the expression to obtain 1+18. Finally, 1+18 is evaluated to 19 which is the final result.

Here's a similar example, but with the order of operation controlled by parentheses:

(1+2)*3^2  ...would be evaluated as:
1+2 = 3
3*9 = 27

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