hledger

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

hledger - a command-line accounting tool

SYNOPSIS

hledger [-f FILE] COMMAND [OPTIONS] [ARGS]
hledger [-f FILE] ADDONCMD -- [OPTIONS] [ARGS]
hledger

DESCRIPTION

hledger is a cross-platform program for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).
Tested on unix, mac, windows, hledger aims to be a reliable, practical tool for daily use.

This is hledger’s command-line interface (there are also curses and web interfaces). Its basic function is to read a plain text file describing financial transactions (in accounting terms, a general journal) and print useful reports on standard output, or export them as CSV. hledger can also read some other file formats such as CSV files, translating them to journal format. Additionally, hledger lists other hledger-* executables found in the user’s $PATH and can invoke them as subcommands.

hledger reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). If using $LEDGER_FILE, note this must be a real environment variable, not a shell variable. You can specify standard input with -f-.

Transactions are dated movements of money between two (or more) named accounts, and are recorded with journal entries like this:

2015/10/16 bought food
         expenses:food          $10
         assets:cash

For more about this format, see hledger_journal(5).

Most users use a text editor to edit the journal, usually with an editor mode such as ledger-mode for added convenience. hledger’s interactive add command is another way to record new transactions. hledger never changes existing transactions.

To get started, you can either save some entries like the above in ~/.hledger.journal, or run hledger add and follow the prompts. Then try some commands like hledger print or hledger balance. Run hledger with no arguments for a list of commands.

EXAMPLES

Two simple transactions in hledger journal format:

2015/9/30 gift received
          assets:cash   $20
          income:gifts
        
        2015/10/16 farmers market
          expenses:food    $10
          assets:cash

Some basic reports:

$ hledger print
        2015/09/30 gift received
            assets:cash            $20
            income:gifts          $-20
        
        2015/10/16 farmers market
            expenses:food           $10
            assets:cash            $-10
$ hledger accounts --tree
        assets
          cash
        expenses
          food
        income
          gifts
$ hledger balance
                         $10  assets:cash
                         $10  expenses:food
                        $-20  income:gifts
        --------------------
                           0
$ hledger register cash
        2015/09/30 gift received   assets:cash               $20           $20
        2015/10/16 farmers market  assets:cash              $-10           $10

More commands:

$ hledger                                 # show available commands
        $ hledger add                             # add more transactions to the journal file
        $ hledger balance                         # all accounts with aggregated balances
        $ hledger balance --help                  # show detailed help for balance command
        $ hledger balance --depth 1               # only top-level accounts
        $ hledger register                        # show account postings, with running total
        $ hledger reg income                      # show postings to/from income accounts
        $ hledger reg 'assets:some bank:checking' # show postings to/from this checking account
        $ hledger print desc:shop                 # show transactions with shop in the description
        $ hledger activity -W                     # show transaction counts per week as a bar chart

OPTIONS

General options

To see general usage help, including general options which are supported by most hledger commands, run hledger -h.

General help options:

-h --help
show general usage (or after COMMAND, command usage)
--version
show version
--debug[=N]
show debug output (levels 1-9, default: 1)

General input options:

-f FILE --file=FILE
use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)
--rules-file=RULESFILE
Conversion rules file to use when reading CSV (default: FILE.rules)
--separator=CHAR
Field separator to expect when reading CSV (default: ‘,’)
--alias=OLD=NEW
rename accounts named OLD to NEW
--anon
anonymize accounts and payees
--pivot FIELDNAME
use some other field or tag for the account name
-I --ignore-assertions
ignore any failing balance assertions

General reporting options:

-b --begin=DATE
include postings/txns on or after this date
-e --end=DATE
include postings/txns before this date
-D --daily
multiperiod/multicolumn report by day
-W --weekly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by week
-M --monthly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by month
-Q --quarterly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by quarter
-Y --yearly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by year
-p --period=PERIODEXP
set start date, end date, and/or reporting interval all at once using period expressions syntax (overrides the flags above)
--date2
match the secondary date instead (see command help for other effects)
-U --unmarked
include only unmarked postings/txns (can combine with -P or -C)
-P --pending
include only pending postings/txns
-C --cleared
include only cleared postings/txns
-R --real
include only non-virtual postings
-NUM --depth=NUM
hide/aggregate accounts or postings more than NUM levels deep
-E --empty
show items with zero amount, normally hidden (and vice-versa in hledger-ui/hledger-web)
-B --cost
convert amounts to their cost at transaction time (using the transaction price, if any)
-V --value
convert amounts to their market value on the report end date (using the most recent applicable market price, if any)
--auto
apply automated posting rules to modify transactions.
--forecast
apply periodic transaction rules to generate future transactions, to 6 months from now or report end date.

When a reporting option appears more than once in the command line, the last one takes precedence.

Some reporting options can also be written as query arguments.

Command options

To see options for a particular command, including command-specific options, run: hledger COMMAND -h.

Command-specific options must be written after the command name, eg: hledger print -x.

Additionally, if the command is an addon, you may need to put its options after a double-hyphen, eg: hledger ui -- --watch. Or, you can run the addon executable directly: hledger-ui --watch.

Command arguments

Most hledger commands accept arguments after the command name, which are often a query, filtering the data in some way.

Argument files

You can save a set of command line options/arguments in a file, one per line, and then reuse them by writing @FILENAME in a command line. To prevent this expansion of @-arguments, precede them with a -- argument. For more, see Save frequently used options.

Special characters

Option and argument values which contain problematic characters should be escaped with double quotes, backslashes, or (best) single quotes. Problematic characters means spaces, and also characters which are significant to your command shell, such as less-than/greater-than. Eg: hledger register -p 'last year' "accounts receivable (receivable|payable)" amt:\>100.

Characters which are significant both to the shell and in regular expressions sometimes need to be double-escaped. These include parentheses, the pipe symbol and the dollar sign. Eg, to match the dollar symbol, bash users should do: hledger balance cur:'\$' or hledger balance cur:\\$.

When hledger is invoking an addon executable (like hledger-ui), options and arguments get de-escaped once more, so you might need triple-escaping. Eg: hledger ui cur:'\\$' or hledger ui cur:\\\\$ in bash. (The number of backslashes in fish shell is left as an exercise for the reader.)

Inside a file used for argument expansion, one less level of escaping is enough. (And in this case, backslashes seem to work better than quotes. Eg: cur:\$).

If in doubt, keep things simple:

If you’re really stumped, add --debug=2 to troubleshoot.

Input files

hledger reads transactions from a data file (and the add command writes to it). By default this file is $HOME/.hledger.journal (or on Windows, something like C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). You can override this with the $LEDGER_FILE environment variable:

or with the -f/--file option:

The file name - (hyphen) means standard input:

Usually the data file is in hledger’s journal format, but it can also be one of several other formats, listed below. hledger detects the format automatically based on the file extension, or if that is not recognised, by trying each built-in “reader” in turn:

Reader: Reads: Used for file extensions:
journal hledger’s journal format, also some Ledger journals .journal .j .hledger .ledger
timeclock timeclock files (precise time logging) .timeclock
timedot timedot files (approximate time logging) .timedot
csv comma-separated values (data interchange) .csv

If needed (eg to ensure correct error messages when a file has the “wrong” extension), you can force a specific reader/format by prepending it to the file path with a colon. Examples:

You can also specify multiple -f options, to read multiple files as one big journal. There are some limitations with this:

If you need those, either use the include directive, or concatenate the files, eg: cat a.journal b.journal | hledger -f- CMD.

Smart dates

hledger’s user interfaces accept a flexible “smart date” syntax (unlike dates in the journal file). Smart dates allow some english words, can be relative to today’s date, and can have less-significant date parts omitted (defaulting to 1).

Examples:

2004/10/1, 2004-01-01, 2004.9.1 exact date, several separators allowed. Year is 4+ digits, month is 1-12, day is 1-31
2004 start of year
2004/10 start of month
10/1 month and day in current year
21 day in current month
october, oct start of month in current year
yesterday, today, tomorrow -1, 0, 1 days from today
last/this/next day/week/month/quarter/year -1, 0, 1 periods from the current period
20181201 8 digit YYYYMMDD with valid year month and day
201812 6 digit YYYYMM with valid year and month

Counterexamples - malformed digit sequences might give surprising results:

201813 6 digits with an invalid month is parsed as start of 6-digit year
20181301 8 digits with an invalid month is parsed as start of 8-digit year
20181232 8 digits with an invalid day gives an error
201801012 9+ digits beginning with a valid YYYYMMDD gives an error

Report start & end date

Most hledger reports show the full span of time represented by the journal data, by default. So, the effective report start and end dates will be the earliest and latest transaction or posting dates found in the journal.

Often you will want to see a shorter time span, such as the current month. You can specify a start and/or end date using -b/--begin, -e/--end, -p/--period or a date: query (described below). All of these accept the smart date syntax. One important thing to be aware of when specifying end dates: as in Ledger, end dates are exclusive, so you need to write the date after the last day you want to include.

Examples:

-b 2016/3/17 begin on St. Patrick’s day 2016
-e 12/1 end at the start of december 1st of the current year (11/30 will be the last date included)
-b thismonth all transactions on or after the 1st of the current month
-p thismonth all transactions in the current month
date:2016/3/17- the above written as queries instead
date:-12/1
date:thismonth-
date:thismonth

Report intervals

A report interval can be specified so that commands like register, balance and activity will divide their reports into multiple subperiods. The basic intervals can be selected with one of -D/--daily, -W/--weekly, -M/--monthly, -Q/--quarterly, or -Y/--yearly. More complex intervals may be specified with a period expression. Report intervals can not be specified with a query, currently.

Period expressions

The -p/--period option accepts period expressions, a shorthand way of expressing a start date, end date, and/or report interval all at once.

Here’s a basic period expression specifying the first quarter of 2009. Note, hledger always treats start dates as inclusive and end dates as exclusive:

-p "from 2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1"

Keywords like “from” and “to” are optional, and so are the spaces, as long as you don’t run two dates together. “to” can also be written as “-”. These are equivalent to the above:

-p "2009/1/1 2009/4/1"
-p2009/1/1to2009/4/1
-p2009/1/1-2009/4/1

Dates are smart dates, so if the current year is 2009, the above can also be written as:

-p "1/1 4/1"
-p "january-apr"
-p "this year to 4/1"

If you specify only one date, the missing start or end date will be the earliest or latest transaction in your journal:

-p "from 2009/1/1" everything after january 1, 2009
-p "from 2009/1" the same
-p "from 2009" the same
-p "to 2009" everything before january 1, 2009

A single date with no “from” or “to” defines both the start and end date like so:

-p "2009" the year 2009; equivalent to “2009/1/1 to 2010/1/1”
-p "2009/1" the month of jan; equivalent to “2009/1/1 to 2009/2/1”
-p "2009/1/1" just that day; equivalent to “2009/1/1 to 2009/1/2”

The argument of -p can also begin with, or be, a report interval expression. The basic report intervals are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly, which have the same effect as the -D,-W,-M,-Q, or -Y flags. Between report interval and start/end dates (if any), the word in is optional. Examples:

-p "weekly from 2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1"
-p "monthly in 2008"
-p "quarterly"

Note that weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly intervals will always start on the first day on week, month, quarter or year accordingly, and will end on the last day of same period, even if associated period expression specifies different explicit start and end date.

For example:

-p "weekly from 2009/1/1 to 2009/4/1" – starts on 2008/12/29, closest preceeding Monday
-p "monthly in 2008/11/25" – starts on 2018/11/01
-p "quarterly from 2009-05-05 to 2009-06-01" - starts on 2009/04/01, ends on 2009/06/30, which are first and last days of Q2 2009
-p "yearly from 2009-12-29" - starts on 2009/01/01, first day of 2009

The following more complex report intervals are also supported: biweekly, bimonthly, every day|week|month|quarter|year, every N days|weeks|months|quarters|years.

All of these will start on the first day of the requested period and end on the last one, as described above.

Examples:

-p "bimonthly from 2008" – periods will have boundaries on 2008/01/01, 2008/03/01, …
-p "every 2 weeks" – starts on closest preceeding Monday
-p "every 5 month from 2009/03" – periods will have boundaries on 2009/03/01, 2009/08/01, …

If you want intervals that start on arbitrary day of your choosing and span a week, month or year, you need to use any of the following:

every Nth day of week, every <weekday>, every Nth day [of month], every Nth weekday [of month], every MM/DD [of year], every Nth MMM [of year], every MMM Nth [of year].

Examples:

-p "every 2nd day of week" – periods will go from Tue to Tue
-p "every Tue" – same
-p "every 15th day" – period boundaries will be on 15th of each month
-p "every 2nd Monday" – period boundaries will be on second Monday of each month
-p "every 11/05" – yearly periods with boundaries on 5th of Nov
-p "every 5th Nov" – same
-p "every Nov 5th" – same

Show historical balances at end of 15th each month (N is exclusive end date):

hledger balance -H -p "every 16th day"

Group postings from start of wednesday to end of next tuesday (N is start date and exclusive end date):

hledger register checking -p "every 3rd day of week"

Depth limiting

With the --depth N option (short form: -N), commands like account, balance and register will show only the uppermost accounts in the account tree, down to level N. Use this when you want a summary with less detail. This flag has the same effect as a depth: query argument (so -2, --depth=2 or depth:2 are basically equivalent).

Pivoting

Normally hledger sums amounts, and organizes them in a hierarchy, based on account name. The --pivot FIELD option causes it to sum and organize hierarchy based on the value of some other field instead. FIELD can be: code, description, payee, note, or the full name (case insensitive) of any tag. As with account names, values containing colon:separated:parts will be displayed hierarchically in reports.

--pivot is a general option affecting all reports; you can think of hledger transforming the journal before any other processing, replacing every posting’s account name with the value of the specified field on that posting, inheriting it from the transaction or using a blank value if it’s not present.

An example:

2016/02/16 Member Fee Payment
            assets:bank account                    2 EUR
            income:member fees                    -2 EUR  ; member: John Doe

Normal balance report showing account names:

$ hledger balance
                       2 EUR  assets:bank account
                      -2 EUR  income:member fees
        --------------------
                           0

Pivoted balance report, using member: tag values instead:

$ hledger balance --pivot member
                       2 EUR
                      -2 EUR  John Doe
        --------------------
                           0

One way to show only amounts with a member: value (using a query, described below):

$ hledger balance --pivot member tag:member=.
                      -2 EUR  John Doe
        --------------------
                      -2 EUR

Another way (the acct: query matches against the pivoted “account name”):

$ hledger balance --pivot member acct:.
                      -2 EUR  John Doe
        --------------------
                      -2 EUR

Cost

The -B/--cost flag converts amounts to their cost at transaction time, if they have a transaction price specified.

Market value

The -V/--value flag converts reported amounts to their current market value.
Specifically, when there is a market price (P directive) for the amount’s commodity, dated on or before today’s date (or the report end date if specified), the amount will be converted to the price’s commodity.

When there are multiple applicable P directives, -V chooses the most recent one, or in case of equal dates, the last-parsed one.

For example:

# one euro is worth this many dollars from nov 1
        P 2016/11/01 € $1.10
        
        # purchase some euros on nov 3
        2016/11/3
            assets:euros        €100
            assets:checking
        
        # the euro is worth fewer dollars by dec 21
        P 2016/12/21 € $1.03

How many euros do I have ?

$ hledger -f t.j bal -N euros
                        €100  assets:euros

What are they worth at end of nov 3 ?

$ hledger -f t.j bal -N euros -V -e 2016/11/4
                     $110.00  assets:euros

What are they worth after 2016/12/21 ? (no report end date specified, defaults to today)

$ hledger -f t.j bal -N euros -V
                     $103.00  assets:euros

Currently, hledger’s -V only uses market prices recorded with P directives, not transaction prices (unlike Ledger).

Currently, -V has a limitation in multicolumn balance reports: it uses the market prices on the report end date for all columns. (Instead of the prices on each column’s end date.)

Combining -B and -V

Using -B/–cost and -V/–value together is currently allowed, but the results are probably not meaningful. Let us know if you find a use for this.

Output destination

Some commands (print, register, stats, the balance commands) can write their output to a destination other than the console. This is controlled by the -o/--output-file option.

$ hledger balance -o -     # write to stdout (the default)
        $ hledger balance -o FILE  # write to FILE

Output format

Some commands can write their output in other formats. Eg print and register can output CSV, and the balance commands can output CSV or HTML. This is controlled by the -O/--output-format option, or by specifying a .csv or .html file extension with -o/--output-file.

$ hledger balance -O csv       # write CSV to stdout
        $ hledger balance -o FILE.csv  # write CSV to FILE.csv

Regular expressions

hledger uses regular expressions in a number of places:

hledger’s regular expressions come from the regex-tdfa library. In general they:

Some things to note:

QUERIES

One of hledger’s strengths is being able to quickly report on precise subsets of your data. Most commands accept an optional query expression, written as arguments after the command name, to filter the data by date, account name or other criteria. The syntax is similar to a web search: one or more space-separated search terms, quotes to enclose whitespace, prefixes to match specific fields, a not: prefix to negate the match.

We do not yet support arbitrary boolean combinations of search terms; instead most commands show transactions/postings/accounts which match (or negatively match):

The print command instead shows transactions which:

The following kinds of search terms can be used. Remember these can also be prefixed with not:, eg to exclude a particular subaccount.

REGEX, acct:REGEX
match account names by this regular expression. (With no prefix, acct: is assumed.)
same as above
amt:N, amt:<N, amt:<=N, amt:>N, amt:>=N
match postings with a single-commodity amount that is equal to, less than, or greater than N. (Multi-commodity amounts are not tested, and will always match.) The comparison has two modes: if N is preceded by a + or - sign (or is 0), the two signed numbers are compared. Otherwise, the absolute magnitudes are compared, ignoring sign.
code:REGEX
match by transaction code (eg check number)
cur:REGEX
match postings or transactions including any amounts whose currency/commodity symbol is fully matched by REGEX. (For a partial match, use .*REGEX.*). Note, to match characters which are regex-significant, like the dollar sign ($), you need to prepend \. And when using the command line you need to add one more level of quoting to hide it from the shell, so eg do: hledger print cur:'\$' or hledger print cur:\\$.
desc:REGEX
match transaction descriptions.
date:PERIODEXPR
match dates within the specified period. PERIODEXPR is a period expression (with no report interval). Examples: date:2016, date:thismonth, date:2000/2/1-2/15, date:lastweek-. If the --date2 command line flag is present, this matches secondary dates instead.
date2:PERIODEXPR
match secondary dates within the specified period.
depth:N
match (or display, depending on command) accounts at or above this depth
note:REGEX
match transaction notes (part of description right of |, or whole description when there’s no |)
payee:REGEX
match transaction payee/payer names (part of description left of |, or whole description when there’s no |)
real:, real:0
match real or virtual postings respectively
status:, status:!, status:*
match unmarked, pending, or cleared transactions respectively
tag:REGEX[=REGEX]
match by tag name, and optionally also by tag value. Note a tag: query is considered to match a transaction if it matches any of the postings. Also remember that postings inherit the tags of their parent transaction.

The following special search term is used automatically in hledger-web, only:

inacct:ACCTNAME
tells hledger-web to show the transaction register for this account. Can be filtered further with acct etc.

Some of these can also be expressed as command-line options (eg depth:2 is equivalent to --depth 2). Generally you can mix options and query arguments, and the resulting query will be their intersection (perhaps excluding the -p/--period option).

COMMANDS

hledger provides a number of subcommands; hledger with no arguments shows a list.

If you install additional hledger-* packages, or if you put programs or scripts named hledger-NAME in your PATH, these will also be listed as subcommands.

Run a subcommand by writing its name as first argument (eg hledger incomestatement). You can also write one of the standard short aliases displayed in parentheses in the command list (hledger b), or any any unambiguous prefix of a command name (hledger inc).

Here are all the builtin commands in alphabetical order. See also hledger for a more organised command list, and hledger CMD -h for detailed command help.

accounts

Show account names. Alias: a.

--declared
show account names declared with account directives
--used
show account names posted to by transactions
--tree
show short account names and their parents, as a tree
--flat
show full account names, as a list (default)
--drop=N
in flat mode: omit N leading account name parts

This command lists account names, either declared with account directives (–declared), posted to (–used), or both (default). With query arguments, only matched account names and account names referenced by matched postings are shown. It shows a flat list by default. With --tree, it uses indentation to show the account hierarchy. In flat mode you can add --drop N to omit the first few account name components. Account names can be depth-clipped with --depth N or depth:N.

Examples:

$ hledger accounts --tree
        assets
          bank
            checking
            saving
          cash
        expenses
          food
          supplies
        income
          gifts
          salary
        liabilities
          debts
$ hledger accounts --drop 1
        bank:checking
        bank:saving
        cash
        food
        supplies
        gifts
        salary
        debts
$ hledger accounts
        assets:bank:checking
        assets:bank:saving
        assets:cash
        expenses:food
        expenses:supplies
        income:gifts
        income:salary
        liabilities:debts

activity

Show an ascii barchart of posting counts per interval.

The activity command displays an ascii histogram showing transaction counts by day, week, month or other reporting interval (by day is the default). With query arguments, it counts only matched transactions.

$ hledger activity --quarterly
        2008-01-01 **
        2008-04-01 *******
        2008-07-01 
        2008-10-01 **

add

Prompt for transactions and add them to the journal.

--no-new-accounts
don’t allow creating new accounts; helps prevent typos when entering account names

Many hledger users edit their journals directly with a text editor, or generate them from CSV. For more interactive data entry, there is the add command, which prompts interactively on the console for new transactions, and appends them to the journal file (if there are multiple -f FILE options, the first file is used.) Existing transactions are not changed. This is the only hledger command that writes to the journal file.

To use it, just run hledger add and follow the prompts. You can add as many transactions as you like; when you are finished, enter . or press control-d or control-c to exit.

Features:

Example (see the tutorial for a detailed explanation):

$ hledger add
        Adding transactions to journal file /src/hledger/examples/sample.journal
        Any command line arguments will be used as defaults.
        Use tab key to complete, readline keys to edit, enter to accept defaults.
        An optional (CODE) may follow transaction dates.
        An optional ; COMMENT may follow descriptions or amounts.
        If you make a mistake, enter < at any prompt to restart the transaction.
        To end a transaction, enter . when prompted.
        To quit, enter . at a date prompt or press control-d or control-c.
        Date [2015/05/22]: 
        Description: supermarket
        Account 1: expenses:food
        Amount  1: $10
        Account 2: assets:checking
        Amount  2 [$-10.0]: 
        Account 3 (or . or enter to finish this transaction): .
        2015/05/22 supermarket
            expenses:food             $10
            assets:checking        $-10.0
        
        Save this transaction to the journal ? [y]: 
        Saved.
        Starting the next transaction (. or ctrl-D/ctrl-C to quit)
        Date [2015/05/22]: <CTRL-D> $

balance

Show accounts and their balances. Aliases: b, bal.

--change
show balance change in each period (default)
--cumulative
show balance change accumulated across periods (in multicolumn reports)
-H --historical
show historical ending balance in each period (includes postings before report start date)
--tree
show accounts as a tree; amounts include subaccounts (default in simple reports)
--flat
show accounts as a list; amounts exclude subaccounts except when account is depth-clipped (default in multicolumn reports)
-A --average
show a row average column (in multicolumn mode)
-T --row-total
show a row total column (in multicolumn mode)
-N --no-total
don’t show the final total row
--drop=N
omit N leading account name parts (in flat mode)
--no-elide
don’t squash boring parent accounts (in tree mode)
--format=LINEFORMAT
in single-column balance reports: use this custom line format
-O FMT --output-format=FMT
select the output format. Supported formats: txt, csv, html.
-o FILE --output-file=FILE
write output to FILE. A file extension matching one of the above formats selects that format.
--pretty-tables
use unicode to display prettier tables.
--sort-amount
sort by amount instead of account code/name (in flat mode). With multiple columns, sorts by the row total, or by row average if that is displayed.
--invert
display all amounts with reversed sign
--budget
show performance compared to budget goals defined by periodic transactions
--show-unbudgeted
with –budget, show unbudgeted accounts also

The balance command is hledger’s most versatile command. Note, despite the name, it is not always used for showing real-world account balances; the more accounting-aware balancesheet and incomestatement may be more convenient for that.

By default, it displays all accounts, and each account’s change in balance during the entire period of the journal. Balance changes are calculated by adding up the postings in each account. You can limit the postings matched, by a query, to see fewer accounts, changes over a different time period, changes from only cleared transactions, etc.

If you include an account’s complete history of postings in the report, the balance change is equivalent to the account’s current ending balance. For a real-world account, typically you won’t have all transactions in the journal; instead you’ll have all transactions after a certain date, and an “opening balances” transaction setting the correct starting balance on that date. Then the balance command will show real-world account balances. In some cases the -H/–historical flag is used to ensure this (more below).

The balance command can produce several styles of report:

Classic balance report

This is the original balance report, as found in Ledger. It usually looks like this:

$ hledger balance
                         $-1  assets
                          $1    bank:saving
                         $-2    cash
                          $2  expenses
                          $1    food
                          $1    supplies
                         $-2  income
                         $-1    gifts
                         $-1    salary
                          $1  liabilities:debts
        --------------------
                           0

By default, accounts are displayed hierarchically, with subaccounts indented below their parent. At each level of the tree, accounts are sorted by account code if any, then by account name. Or with -S/--sort-amount, by their balance amount.

“Boring” accounts, which contain a single interesting subaccount and no balance of their own, are elided into the following line for more compact output. (Eg above, the “liabilities” account.) Use --no-elide to prevent this.

Account balances are “inclusive” - they include the balances of any subaccounts.

Accounts which have zero balance (and no non-zero subaccounts) are omitted. Use -E/--empty to show them.

A final total is displayed by default; use -N/--no-total to suppress it, eg:

$ hledger balance -p 2008/6 expenses --no-total
                          $2  expenses
                          $1    food
                          $1    supplies
Customising the classic balance report

You can customise the layout of classic balance reports with --format FMT:

$ hledger balance --format "%20(account) %12(total)"
                      assets          $-1
                 bank:saving           $1
                        cash          $-2
                    expenses           $2
                        food           $1
                    supplies           $1
                      income          $-2
                       gifts          $-1
                      salary          $-1
           liabilities:debts           $1
        ---------------------------------
                                        0

The FMT format string (plus a newline) specifies the formatting applied to each account/balance pair. It may contain any suitable text, with data fields interpolated like so:

%[MIN][.MAX](FIELDNAME)

Also, FMT can begin with an optional prefix to control how multi-commodity amounts are rendered:

There are some quirks. Eg in one-line mode, %(depth_spacer) has no effect, instead %(account) has indentation built in. Experimentation may be needed to get pleasing results.

Some example formats:

Colour support

The balance command shows negative amounts in red, if:

Flat mode

To see a flat list instead of the default hierarchical display, use --flat. In this mode, accounts (unless depth-clipped) show their full names and “exclusive” balance, excluding any subaccount balances. In this mode, you can also use --drop N to omit the first few account name components.

$ hledger balance -p 2008/6 expenses -N --flat --drop 1
                          $1  food
                          $1  supplies
Depth limited balance reports

With --depth N or depth:N or just -N, balance reports show accounts only to the specified numeric depth. This is very useful to summarise a complex set of accounts and get an overview.

$ hledger balance -N -1
                         $-1  assets
                          $2  expenses
                         $-2  income
                          $1  liabilities

Flat-mode balance reports, which normally show exclusive balances, show inclusive balances at the depth limit.

Multicolumn balance report

Multicolumn or tabular balance reports are a very useful hledger feature, and usually the preferred style. They share many of the above features, but they show the report as a table, with columns representing time periods. This mode is activated by providing a reporting interval.

There are three types of multicolumn balance report, showing different information:

  1. By default: each column shows the sum of postings in that period, ie the account’s change of balance in that period. This is useful eg for a monthly income statement:

    $ hledger balance --quarterly income expenses -E
            Balance changes in 2008:
            
                               ||  2008q1  2008q2  2008q3  2008q4 
            ===================++=================================
             expenses:food     ||       0      $1       0       0 
             expenses:supplies ||       0      $1       0       0 
             income:gifts      ||       0     $-1       0       0 
             income:salary     ||     $-1       0       0       0 
            -------------------++---------------------------------
                               ||     $-1      $1       0       0 
  2. With --cumulative: each column shows the ending balance for that period, accumulating the changes across periods, starting from 0 at the report start date:

    $ hledger balance --quarterly income expenses -E --cumulative
            Ending balances (cumulative) in 2008:
            
                               ||  2008/03/31  2008/06/30  2008/09/30  2008/12/31 
            ===================++=================================================
             expenses:food     ||           0          $1          $1          $1 
             expenses:supplies ||           0          $1          $1          $1 
             income:gifts      ||           0         $-1         $-1         $-1 
             income:salary     ||         $-1         $-1         $-1         $-1 
            -------------------++-------------------------------------------------
                               ||         $-1           0           0           0 
  3. With --historical/-H: each column shows the actual historical ending balance for that period, accumulating the changes across periods, starting from the actual balance at the report start date. This is useful eg for a multi-period balance sheet, and when you are showing only the data after a certain start date:

    $ hledger balance ^assets ^liabilities --quarterly --historical --begin 2008/4/1
            Ending balances (historical) in 2008/04/01-2008/12/31:
            
                                  ||  2008/06/30  2008/09/30  2008/12/31 
            ======================++=====================================
             assets:bank:checking ||          $1          $1           0 
             assets:bank:saving   ||          $1          $1          $1 
             assets:cash          ||         $-2         $-2         $-2 
             liabilities:debts    ||           0           0          $1 
            ----------------------++-------------------------------------
                                  ||           0           0           0 

Multicolumn balance reports display accounts in flat mode by default; to see the hierarchy, use --tree.

With a reporting interval (like --quarterly above), the report start/end dates will be adjusted if necessary so that they encompass the displayed report periods. This is so that the first and last periods will be “full” and comparable to the others.

The -E/--empty flag does two things in multicolumn balance reports: first, the report will show all columns within the specified report period (without -E, leading and trailing columns with all zeroes are not shown). Second, all accounts which existed at the report start date will be considered, not just the ones with activity during the report period (use -E to include low-activity accounts which would otherwise would be omitted).

The -T/--row-total flag adds an additional column showing the total for each row.

The -A/--average flag adds a column showing the average value in each row.

Here’s an example of all three:

$ hledger balance -Q income expenses --tree -ETA
        Balance changes in 2008:
        
                    ||  2008q1  2008q2  2008q3  2008q4    Total  Average 
        ============++===================================================
         expenses   ||       0      $2       0       0       $2       $1 
           food     ||       0      $1       0       0       $1        0 
           supplies ||       0      $1       0       0       $1        0 
         income     ||     $-1     $-1       0       0      $-2      $-1 
           gifts    ||       0     $-1       0       0      $-1        0 
           salary   ||     $-1       0       0       0      $-1        0 
        ------------++---------------------------------------------------
                    ||     $-1      $1       0       0        0        0 
        
        # Average is rounded to the dollar here since all journal amounts are

Limitations:

In multicolumn reports the -V/--value flag uses the market price on the report end date, for all columns (not the price on each column’s end date).

Eliding of boring parent accounts in tree mode, as in the classic balance report, is not yet supported in multicolumn reports.

Budget report

With --budget, extra columns are displayed showing budget goals for each account and period, if any. Budget goals are defined by periodic transactions. This is very useful for comparing planned and actual income, expenses, time usage, etc. –budget is most often combined with a report interval.

For example, you can take average monthly expenses in the common expense categories to construct a minimal monthly budget:

;; Budget
        ~ monthly
          income  $2000
          expenses:food    $400
          expenses:bus     $50
          expenses:movies  $30
          assets:bank:checking
        
        ;; Two months worth of expenses
        2017-11-01
          income  $1950
          expenses:food    $396
          expenses:bus     $49
          expenses:movies  $30
          expenses:supplies  $20
          assets:bank:checking
        
        2017-12-01
          income  $2100
          expenses:food    $412
          expenses:bus     $53
          expenses:gifts   $100
          assets:bank:checking

You can now see a monthly budget report:

$ hledger balance -M --budget
        Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:
        
                              ||                2017/11                  2017/12 
        ======================++=================================================
         <unbudgeted>         ||                    $20                     $100 
         assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [107% of $-2480] 
         expenses:bus         ||       $49 [98% of $50]        $53 [106% of $50] 
         expenses:food        ||     $396 [99% of $400]      $412 [103% of $400] 
         expenses:movies      ||      $30 [100% of $30]            0 [0% of $30] 
         income               ||   $1950 [98% of $2000]    $2100 [105% of $2000] 
        ----------------------++-------------------------------------------------
                              ||                      0                        0 

By default, only accounts with budget goals during the report period are shown. --show-unbudgeted shows unbudgeted accounts as well. Top-level accounts with no budget goals anywhere below them are grouped under <unbudgeted>.

You can roll over unspent budgets to next period with --cumulative:

$ hledger balance -M --budget --cumulative
        Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:
        
                              ||             2017/11/30               2017/12/31 
        ======================++=================================================
         <unbudgeted>         ||                    $20                     $120 
         assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [103% of $-4960] 
         expenses:bus         ||       $49 [98% of $50]      $102 [102% of $100] 
         expenses:food        ||     $396 [99% of $400]      $808 [101% of $800] 
         expenses:movies      ||      $30 [100% of $30]         $30 [50% of $60] 
         income               ||   $1950 [98% of $2000]    $4050 [101% of $4000] 
        ----------------------++-------------------------------------------------
                              ||                      0                        0

Note, the -S/--sort-amount flag is not yet fully supported with --budget.

For more examples, see Budgeting and Forecasting.

Output format

The balance command supports output destination and output format selection.

balancesheet

This command displays a simple balance sheet, showing historical ending balances of asset and liability accounts (ignoring any report begin date). It assumes that these accounts are under a top-level asset or liability account (case insensitive, plural forms also allowed). Note this report shows all account balances with normal positive sign (like conventional financial statements, unlike balance/print/register) (experimental). (bs)

--change
show balance change in each period, instead of historical ending balances
--cumulative
show balance change accumulated across periods (in multicolumn reports), instead of historical ending balances
-H --historical
show historical ending balance in each period (includes postings before report start date) (default)
--tree
show accounts as a tree; amounts include subaccounts (default in simple reports)
--flat
show accounts as a list; amounts exclude subaccounts except when account is depth-clipped (default in multicolumn reports)
-A --average
show a row average column (in multicolumn mode)
-T --row-total
show a row total column (in multicolumn mode)
-N --no-total
don’t show the final total row
--drop=N
omit N leading account name parts (in flat mode)
--no-elide
don’t squash boring parent accounts (in tree mode)
--format=LINEFORMAT
in single-column balance reports: use this custom line format
--sort-amount
sort by amount instead of account code/name

Example:

$ hledger balancesheet
        Balance Sheet
        
        Assets:
                         $-1  assets
                          $1    bank:saving
                         $-2    cash
        --------------------
                         $-1
        
        Liabilities:
                          $1  liabilities:debts
        --------------------
                          $1
        
        Total:
        --------------------
                           0

With a reporting interval, multiple columns will be shown, one for each report period. As with multicolumn balance reports, you can alter the report mode with --change/--cumulative/--historical. Normally balancesheet shows historical ending balances, which is what you need for a balance sheet; note this means it ignores report begin dates.

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.

balancesheetequity

Just like balancesheet, but also reports Equity (which it assumes is under a top-level equity account).

Example:

$ hledger balancesheetequity
        Balance Sheet With Equity
        
        Assets:
                         $-2  assets
                          $1    bank:saving
                         $-3    cash
        --------------------
                         $-2
        
        Liabilities:
                          $1  liabilities:debts
        --------------------
                          $1
        
        Equity:
                  $1  equity:owner
        --------------------
                  $1
        
        Total:
        --------------------
                           0

cashflow

This command displays a simple cashflow statement, showing changes in “cash” accounts. It assumes that these accounts are under a top-level asset account (case insensitive, plural forms also allowed) and do not contain receivable or A/R in their name. Note this report shows all account balances with normal positive sign (like conventional financial statements, unlike balance/print/register) (experimental). (cf)

--change
show balance change in each period (default)
--cumulative
show balance change accumulated across periods (in multicolumn reports), instead of changes during periods
-H --historical
show historical ending balance in each period (includes postings before report start date), instead of changes during each period
--tree
show accounts as a tree; amounts include subaccounts (default in simple reports)
--flat
show accounts as a list; amounts exclude subaccounts except when account is depth-clipped (default in multicolumn reports)
-A --average
show a row average column (in multicolumn mode)
-T --row-total
show a row total column (in multicolumn mode)
-N --no-total
don’t show the final total row (in simple reports)
--drop=N
omit N leading account name parts (in flat mode)
--no-elide
don’t squash boring parent accounts (in tree mode)
--format=LINEFORMAT
in single-column balance reports: use this custom line format
--sort-amount
sort by amount instead of account code/name

Example:

$ hledger cashflow
        Cashflow Statement
        
        Cash flows:
                         $-1  assets
                          $1    bank:saving
                         $-2    cash
        --------------------
                         $-1
        
        Total:
        --------------------
                         $-1

With a reporting interval, multiple columns will be shown, one for each report period. Normally cashflow shows changes in assets per period, though as with multicolumn balance reports you can alter the report mode with --change/--cumulative/--historical.

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.

check-dates

Check that transactions are sorted by increasing date. With a query, only matched transactions’ dates are checked.

check-dupes

Report account names having the same leaf but different prefixes. An example: http://stefanorodighiero.net/software/hledger-dupes.html

close

Print closing/opening transactions that bring some or all account balances to zero and back. Can be useful for bringing asset/liability balances across file boundaries, or for closing out income/expenses for a period. This was formerly called “equity”, as in Ledger, and that alias is also accepted. See close –help for more.

help

Show any of the hledger manuals.

The help command displays any of the main hledger manuals, in one of several ways. Run it with no argument to list the manuals, or provide a full or partial manual name to select one.

hledger manuals are available in several formats. hledger help will use the first of these display methods that it finds: info, man, $PAGER, less, stdout (or when non-interactive, just stdout). You can force a particular viewer with the --info, --man, --pager, --cat flags.

$ hledger help
        Please choose a manual by typing "hledger help MANUAL" (a substring is ok).
        Manuals: hledger hledger-ui hledger-web hledger-api journal csv timeclock timedot
$ hledger help h --man
        
        hledger(1)                    hledger User Manuals                    hledger(1)
        
        NAME
               hledger - a command-line accounting tool
        
        SYNOPSIS
               hledger [-f FILE] COMMAND [OPTIONS] [ARGS]
               hledger [-f FILE] ADDONCMD -- [OPTIONS] [ARGS]
               hledger
        
        DESCRIPTION
               hledger  is  a  cross-platform  program  for tracking money, time, or any
        ...

import

Read new transactions added to each FILE since last run, and add them to the main journal file.

--dry-run
just show the transactions to be imported

The input files are specified as arguments - no need to write -f before each one. So eg to add new transactions from all CSV files to the main journal, it’s just: hledger import *.csv

New transactions are detected in the same way as print –new: by assuming transactions are always added to the input files in increasing date order, and by saving .latest.FILE state files.

The –dry-run output is in journal format, so you can filter it, eg to see only uncategorised transactions:

$ hledger import --dry ... | hledger -f- print unknown --ignore-assertions

incomestatement

This command displays a simple income statement, showing revenues and expenses during a period. It assumes that these accounts are under a top-level revenue or income or expense account (case insensitive, plural forms also allowed). Note this report shows all account balances with normal positive sign (like conventional financial statements, unlike balance/print/register) (experimental). (is)

--change
show balance change in each period (default)
--cumulative
show balance change accumulated across periods (in multicolumn reports), instead of changes during periods
-H --historical
show historical ending balance in each period (includes postings before report start date), instead of changes during each period
--tree
show accounts as a tree; amounts include subaccounts (default in simple reports)
--flat
show accounts as a list; amounts exclude subaccounts except when account is depth-clipped (default in multicolumn reports)
-A --average
show a row average column (in multicolumn mode)
-T --row-total
show a row total column (in multicolumn mode)
-N --no-total
don’t show the final total row
--drop=N
omit N leading account name parts (in flat mode)
--no-elide
don’t squash boring parent accounts (in tree mode)
--format=LINEFORMAT
in single-column balance reports: use this custom line format
--sort-amount
sort by amount instead of account code/name

This command displays a simple income statement. It currently assumes that you have top-level accounts named income (or revenue) and expense (plural forms also allowed.)

$ hledger incomestatement
        Income Statement
        
        Revenues:
                         $-2  income
                         $-1    gifts
                         $-1    salary
        --------------------
                         $-2
        
        Expenses:
                          $2  expenses
                          $1    food
                          $1    supplies
        --------------------
                          $2
        
        Total:
        --------------------
                           0

With a reporting interval, multiple columns will be shown, one for each report period. Normally incomestatement shows revenues/expenses per period, though as with multicolumn balance reports you can alter the report mode with --change/--cumulative/--historical.

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.

prices

Print market price directives from the journal. With –costs, also print synthetic market prices based on transaction prices. With –inverted-costs, also print inverse prices based on transaction prices. Prices (and postings providing prices) can be filtered by a query.

print

Show transactions from the journal. Aliases: p, txns.

-m STR --match=STR
show the transaction whose description is most similar to STR, and is most recent
--new
show only newer-dated transactions added in each file since last run
-x --explicit
show all amounts explicitly
-O FMT --output-format=FMT
select the output format. Supported formats: txt, csv.
-o FILE --output-file=FILE
write output to FILE. A file extension matching one of the above formats selects that format.
$ hledger print
        2008/01/01 income
            assets:bank:checking            $1
            income:salary                  $-1
        
        2008/06/01 gift
            assets:bank:checking            $1
            income:gifts                   $-1
        
        2008/06/02 save
            assets:bank:saving              $1
            assets:bank:checking           $-1
        
        2008/06/03 * eat & shop
            expenses:food                $1
            expenses:supplies            $1
            assets:cash                 $-2
        
        2008/12/31 * pay off
            liabilities:debts               $1
            assets:bank:checking           $-1

The print command displays full journal entries (transactions) from the journal file in date order, tidily formatted. print’s output is always a valid hledger journal. It preserves all transaction information, but it does not preserve directives or inter-transaction comments

Normally, the journal entry’s explicit or implicit amount style is preserved. Ie when an amount is omitted in the journal, it will be omitted in the output. You can use the -x/--explicit flag to make all amounts explicit, which can be useful for troubleshooting or for making your journal more readable and robust against data entry errors. Note, -x will cause postings with a multi-commodity amount (these can arise when a multi-commodity transaction has an implicit amount) will be split into multiple single-commodity postings, for valid journal output.

With -B/--cost, amounts with transaction prices are converted to cost using that price. This can be used for troubleshooting.

With -m/--match and a STR argument, print will show at most one transaction: the one one whose description is most similar to STR, and is most recent. STR should contain at least two characters. If there is no similar-enough match, no transaction will be shown.

With --new, for each FILE being read, hledger reads (and writes) a special state file (.latest.FILE in the same directory), containing the latest transaction date(s) that were seen last time FILE was read. When this file is found, only transactions with newer dates (and new transactions on the latest date) are printed. This is useful for ignoring already-seen entries in import data, such as downloaded CSV files. Eg:

$ hledger -f bank1.csv print --new
        # shows transactions added since last print --new on this file

This assumes that transactions added to FILE always have same or increasing dates, and that transactions on the same day do not get reordered. See also the import command.

This command also supports output destination and output format selection. Here’s an example of print’s CSV output:

$ hledger print -Ocsv
        "txnidx","date","date2","status","code","description","comment","account","amount","commodity","credit","debit","posting-status","posting-comment"
        "1","2008/01/01","","","","income","","assets:bank:checking","1","$","","1","",""
        "1","2008/01/01","","","","income","","income:salary","-1","$","1","","",""
        "2","2008/06/01","","","","gift","","assets:bank:checking","1","$","","1","",""
        "2","2008/06/01","","","","gift","","income:gifts","-1","$","1","","",""
        "3","2008/06/02","","","","save","","assets:bank:saving","1","$","","1","",""
        "3","2008/06/02","","","","save","","assets:bank:checking","-1","$","1","","",""
        "4","2008/06/03","","*","","eat & shop","","expenses:food","1","$","","1","",""
        "4","2008/06/03","","*","","eat & shop","","expenses:supplies","1","$","","1","",""
        "4","2008/06/03","","*","","eat & shop","","assets:cash","-2","$","2","","",""
        "5","2008/12/31","","*","","pay off","","liabilities:debts","1","$","","1","",""
        "5","2008/12/31","","*","","pay off","","assets:bank:checking","-1","$","1","","",""

Print transactions which do not reuse an already-seen description.

register

Show postings and their running total. Aliases: r, reg.

--cumulative
show running total from report start date (default)
-H --historical
show historical running total/balance (includes postings before report start date)
-A --average
show running average of posting amounts instead of total (implies –empty)
-r --related
show postings’ siblings instead
-w N --width=N
set output width (default: terminal width or COLUMNS. -wN,M sets description width as well)
-O FMT --output-format=FMT
select the output format. Supported formats: txt, csv.
-o FILE --output-file=FILE
write output to FILE. A file extension matching one of the above formats selects that format.

The register command displays postings, one per line, and their running total. This is typically used with a query selecting a particular account, to see that account’s activity:

$ hledger register checking
        2008/01/01 income               assets:bank:checking            $1            $1
        2008/06/01 gift                 assets:bank:checking            $1            $2
        2008/06/02 save                 assets:bank:checking           $-1            $1
        2008/12/31 pay off              assets:bank:checking           $-1             0

The --historical/-H flag adds the balance from any undisplayed prior postings to the running total. This is useful when you want to see only recent activity, with a historically accurate running balance:

$ hledger register checking -b 2008/6 --historical
        2008/06/01 gift                 assets:bank:checking            $1            $2
        2008/06/02 save                 assets:bank:checking           $-1            $1
        2008/12/31 pay off              assets:bank:checking           $-1             0

The --depth option limits the amount of sub-account detail displayed.

The --average/-A flag shows the running average posting amount instead of the running total (so, the final number displayed is the average for the whole report period). This flag implies --empty (see below). It is affected by --historical. It works best when showing just one account and one commodity.

The --related/-r flag shows the other postings in the transactions of the postings which would normally be shown.

With a reporting interval, register shows summary postings, one per interval, aggregating the postings to each account:

$ hledger register --monthly income
        2008/01                 income:salary                          $-1           $-1
        2008/06                 income:gifts                           $-1           $-2

Periods with no activity, and summary postings with a zero amount, are not shown by default; use the --empty/-E flag to see them:

$ hledger register --monthly income -E
        2008/01                 income:salary                          $-1           $-1
        2008/02                                                          0           $-1
        2008/03                                                          0           $-1
        2008/04                                                          0           $-1
        2008/05                                                          0           $-1
        2008/06                 income:gifts                           $-1           $-2
        2008/07                                                          0           $-2
        2008/08                                                          0           $-2
        2008/09                                                          0           $-2
        2008/10                                                          0           $-2
        2008/11                                                          0           $-2
        2008/12                                                          0           $-2

Often, you’ll want to see just one line per interval. The --depth option helps with this, causing subaccounts to be aggregated:

$ hledger register --monthly assets --depth 1h
        2008/01                 assets                                  $1            $1
        2008/06                 assets                                 $-1             0
        2008/12                 assets                                 $-1           $-1

Note when using report intervals, if you specify start/end dates these will be adjusted outward if necessary to contain a whole number of intervals. This ensures that the first and last intervals are full length and comparable to the others in the report.

Custom register output

register uses the full terminal width by default, except on windows. You can override this by setting the COLUMNS environment variable (not a bash shell variable) or by using the --width/-w option.

The description and account columns normally share the space equally (about half of (width - 40) each). You can adjust this by adding a description width as part of –width’s argument, comma-separated: --width W,D . Here’s a diagram:

<--------------------------------- width (W) ---------------------------------->
        date (10)  description (D)       account (W-41-D)     amount (12)   balance (12)
        DDDDDDDDDD dddddddddddddddddddd  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa  AAAAAAAAAAAA  AAAAAAAAAAAA

and some examples:

$ hledger reg                     # use terminal width (or 80 on windows)
        $ hledger reg -w 100              # use width 100
        $ COLUMNS=100 hledger reg         # set with one-time environment variable
        $ export COLUMNS=100; hledger reg # set till session end (or window resize)
        $ hledger reg -w 100,40           # set overall width 100, description width 40
        $ hledger reg -w $COLUMNS,40      # use terminal width, and set description width

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.

register-match

Print the one posting whose transaction description is closest to DESC, in the style of the register command. Helps ledger-autosync detect already-seen transactions when importing.

rewrite

Print all transactions, adding custom postings to the matched ones.

stats

Show some journal statistics.

-o FILE --output-file=FILE
write output to FILE. A file extension matching one of the above formats selects that format.
$ hledger stats
        Main journal file        : /src/hledger/examples/sample.journal
        Included journal files   : 
        Transactions span        : 2008-01-01 to 2009-01-01 (366 days)
        Last transaction         : 2008-12-31 (2333 days ago)
        Transactions             : 5 (0.0 per day)
        Transactions last 30 days: 0 (0.0 per day)
        Transactions last 7 days : 0 (0.0 per day)
        Payees/descriptions      : 5
        Accounts                 : 8 (depth 3)
        Commodities              : 1 ($)

The stats command displays summary information for the whole journal, or a matched part of it. With a reporting interval, it shows a report for each report period.

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.

tags

List all the tag names used in the journal. With a TAGREGEX argument, only tag names matching the regular expression (case insensitive) are shown. With additional QUERY arguments, only transactions matching the query are considered.

test

Run built-in unit tests.

Prints test names and their results on stdout. If any test fails or gives an error, the exit code will be non-zero.

Test names include a group prefix. If a (exact, case sensitive) group prefix, or a full test name is provided as the first argument, only that group or test is run.

If a numeric second argument is provided, it will set the randomness seed, for repeatable results from tests using randomness (currently none of them).

This is mainly used by developers, but it’s nice to be able to sanity-check your installed hledger executable at any time. All tests are expected to pass - if you ever see otherwise, something has gone wrong, please report a bug!

ADD-ON COMMANDS

hledger also searches for external add-on commands, and will include these in the commands list. These are programs or scripts in your PATH whose name starts with hledger- and ends with a recognised file extension (currently: no extension, bat,com,exe, hs,lhs,pl,py,rb,rkt,sh).

Add-ons can be invoked like any hledger command, but there are a few things to be aware of. Eg if the hledger-web add-on is installed,

Add-ons are a relatively easy way to add local features or experiment with new ideas. They can be written in any language, but haskell scripts have a big advantage: they can use the same hledger (and haskell) library functions that built-in commands do, for command-line options, journal parsing, reporting, etc.

Here are some hledger add-ons available:

Official add-ons

These are maintained and released along with hledger.

api

hledger-api serves hledger data as a JSON web API.

ui

hledger-ui provides an efficient curses-style interface.

web

hledger-web provides a simple web interface.

Third party add-ons

These are maintained separately, and usually updated shortly after a hledger release.

diff

hledger-diff shows differences in an account’s transactions between one journal file and another.

iadd

hledger-iadd is a curses-style, more interactive replacement for the add command.

interest

hledger-interest generates interest transactions for an account according to various schemes.

irr

hledger-irr calculates the internal rate of return of an investment account.

Experimental add-ons

These are available in source form in the hledger repo’s bin/ directory; installing them is pretty easy. They may be less mature and documented than built-in commands. Reading and tweaking these is a good way to start making your own!

autosync

hledger-autosync is a symbolic link for easily running ledger-autosync, if installed. ledger-autosync does deduplicating conversion of OFX data and some CSV formats, and can also download the data if your bank offers OFX Direct Connect.

chart

hledger-chart.hs is an old pie chart generator, in need of some love.

check

hledger-check.hs checks more powerful account balance assertions.

ENVIRONMENT

COLUMNS The screen width used by the register command. Default: the full terminal width.

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f. Default: ~/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

FILES

Reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

BUGS

The need to precede addon command options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

When input data contains non-ascii characters, a suitable system locale must be configured (or there will be an unhelpful error). Eg on POSIX, set LANG to something other than C.

In a Microsoft Windows CMD window, non-ascii characters and colours are not supported.

In a Cygwin/MSYS/Mintty window, the tab key is not supported in hledger add.

Not all of Ledger’s journal file syntax is supported. See file format differences.

On large data files, hledger is slower and uses more memory than Ledger.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Here are some issues you might encounter when you run hledger (and remember you can also seek help from the IRC channel, mail list or bug tracker):

Successfully installed, but “No command ‘hledger’ found”
stack and cabal install binaries into a special directory, which should be added to your PATH environment variable. Eg on unix-like systems, that is ~/.local/bin and ~/.cabal/bin respectively.

I set a custom LEDGER_FILE, but hledger is still using the default file
LEDGER_FILE should be a real environment variable, not just a shell variable. The command env | grep LEDGER_FILE should show it. You may need to use export. Here’s an explanation.

“Illegal byte sequence” or “Invalid or incomplete multibyte or wide character” errors
In order to handle non-ascii letters and symbols (like £), hledger needs an appropriate locale. This is usually configured system-wide; you can also configure it temporarily. The locale may need to be one that supports UTF-8, if you built hledger with GHC < 7.2 (or possibly always, I’m not sure yet).

Here’s an example of setting the locale temporarily, on ubuntu gnu/linux:

$ file my.journal
        my.journal: UTF-8 Unicode text                 # <- the file is UTF8-encoded
        $ locale -a
        C
        en_US.utf8                             # <- a UTF8-aware locale is available
        POSIX
        $ LANG=en_US.utf8 hledger -f my.journal print   # <- use it for this command

Here’s one way to set it permanently, there are probably better ways:

$ echo "export LANG=en_US.UTF-8" >>~/.bash_profile
        $ bash --login

If we preferred to use eg fr_FR.utf8, we might have to install that first:

$ apt-get install language-pack-fr
        $ locale -a
        C
        en_US.utf8
        fr_BE.utf8
        fr_CA.utf8
        fr_CH.utf8
        fr_FR.utf8
        fr_LU.utf8
        POSIX
        $ LANG=fr_FR.utf8 hledger -f my.journal print

Note some platforms allow variant locale spellings, but not all (ubuntu accepts fr_FR.UTF8, mac osx requires exactly fr_FR.UTF-8).

hledger-ui

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

hledger-ui - curses-style interface for the hledger accounting tool

SYNOPSIS

hledger-ui [OPTIONS] [QUERYARGS]
hledger ui -- [OPTIONS] [QUERYARGS]

DESCRIPTION

hledger is a cross-platform program for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).

hledger-ui is hledger’s curses-style interface, providing an efficient full-window text UI for viewing accounts and transactions, and some limited data entry capability. It is easier than hledger’s command-line interface, and sometimes quicker and more convenient than the web interface.

Like hledger, it reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). For more about this see hledger(1), hledger_journal(5) etc.

OPTIONS

Note: if invoking hledger-ui as a hledger subcommand, write -- before options as shown above.

Any QUERYARGS are interpreted as a hledger search query which filters the data.

--watch
watch for data and date changes and reload automatically
--theme=default|terminal|greenterm
use this custom display theme
--register=ACCTREGEX
start in the (first) matched account’s register screen
--change
show period balances (changes) at startup instead of historical balances
--flat
show full account names, unindented

hledger input options:

-f FILE --file=FILE
use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)
--rules-file=RULESFILE
Conversion rules file to use when reading CSV (default: FILE.rules)
--separator=CHAR
Field separator to expect when reading CSV (default: ‘,’)
--alias=OLD=NEW
rename accounts named OLD to NEW
--anon
anonymize accounts and payees
--pivot FIELDNAME
use some other field or tag for the account name
-I --ignore-assertions
ignore any failing balance assertions

hledger reporting options:

-b --begin=DATE
include postings/txns on or after this date
-e --end=DATE
include postings/txns before this date
-D --daily
multiperiod/multicolumn report by day
-W --weekly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by week
-M --monthly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by month
-Q --quarterly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by quarter
-Y --yearly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by year
-p --period=PERIODEXP
set start date, end date, and/or reporting interval all at once using period expressions syntax (overrides the flags above)
--date2
match the secondary date instead (see command help for other effects)
-U --unmarked
include only unmarked postings/txns (can combine with -P or -C)
-P --pending
include only pending postings/txns
-C --cleared
include only cleared postings/txns
-R --real
include only non-virtual postings
-NUM --depth=NUM
hide/aggregate accounts or postings more than NUM levels deep
-E --empty
show items with zero amount, normally hidden (and vice-versa in hledger-ui/hledger-web)
-B --cost
convert amounts to their cost at transaction time (using the transaction price, if any)
-V --value
convert amounts to their market value on the report end date (using the most recent applicable market price, if any)
--auto
apply automated posting rules to modify transactions.
--forecast
apply periodic transaction rules to generate future transactions, to 6 months from now or report end date.

When a reporting option appears more than once in the command line, the last one takes precedence.

Some reporting options can also be written as query arguments.

hledger help options:

-h --help
show general usage (or after COMMAND, command usage)
--version
show version
--debug[=N]
show debug output (levels 1-9, default: 1)

A @FILE argument will be expanded to the contents of FILE, which should contain one command line option/argument per line. (To prevent this, insert a -- argument before.)

KEYS

? shows a help dialog listing all keys. (Some of these also appear in the quick help at the bottom of each screen.) Press ? again (or ESCAPE, or LEFT) to close it. The following keys work on most screens:

The cursor keys navigate: right (or enter) goes deeper, left returns to the previous screen, up/down/page up/page down/home/end move up and down through lists. Vi-style (h/j/k/l) and Emacs-style (CTRL-p/CTRL-n/CTRL-f/CTRL-b) movement keys are also supported. A tip: movement speed is limited by your keyboard repeat rate, to move faster you may want to adjust it. (If you’re on a mac, the Karabiner app is one way to do that.)

With shift pressed, the cursor keys adjust the report period, limiting the transactions to be shown (by default, all are shown). shift-down/up steps downward and upward through these standard report period durations: year, quarter, month, week, day. Then, shift-left/right moves to the previous/next period. t sets the report period to today. With the --watch option, when viewing a “current” period (the current day, week, month, quarter, or year), the period will move automatically to track the current date. To set a non-standard period, you can use / and a date: query.

/ lets you set a general filter query limiting the data shown, using the same query terms as in hledger and hledger-web. While editing the query, you can use CTRL-a/e/d/k, BS, cursor keys; press ENTER to set it, or ESCAPEto cancel. There are also keys for quickly adjusting some common filters like account depth and transaction status (see below). BACKSPACE or DELETE removes all filters, showing all transactions.

ESCAPE removes all filters and jumps back to the top screen. Or, it cancels a minibuffer edit or help dialog in progress.

CTRL-l redraws the screen and centers the selection if possible (selections near the top won’t be centered, since we don’t scroll above the top).

g reloads from the data file(s) and updates the current screen and any previous screens. (With large files, this could cause a noticeable pause.)

I toggles balance assertion checking. Disabling balance assertions temporarily can be useful for troubleshooting.

a runs command-line hledger’s add command, and reloads the updated file. This allows some basic data entry.

A is like a, but runs the hledger-iadd tool, which provides a curses-style interface. This key will be available if hledger-iadd is installed in $PATH.

E runs $HLEDGER_UI_EDITOR, or $EDITOR, or a default (emacsclient -a "" -nw) on the journal file. With some editors (emacs, vi), the cursor will be positioned at the current transaction when invoked from the register and transaction screens, and at the error location (if possible) when invoked from the error screen.

q quits the application.

Additional screen-specific keys are described below.

SCREENS

Accounts screen

This is normally the first screen displayed. It lists accounts and their balances, like hledger’s balance command. By default, it shows all accounts and their latest ending balances (including the balances of subaccounts). if you specify a query on the command line, it shows just the matched accounts and the balances from matched transactions.

Account names are normally indented to show the hierarchy (tree mode). To see less detail, set a depth limit by pressing a number key, 1 to 9. 0 shows even less detail, collapsing all accounts to a single total. - and + (or =) decrease and increase the depth limit. To remove the depth limit, set it higher than the maximum account depth, or press ESCAPE.

F toggles flat mode, in which accounts are shown as a flat list, with their full names. In this mode, account balances exclude subaccounts, except for accounts at the depth limit (as with hledger’s balance command).

H toggles between showing historical balances or period balances. Historical balances (the default) are ending balances at the end of the report period, taking into account all transactions before that date (filtered by the filter query if any), including transactions before the start of the report period. In other words, historical balances are what you would see on a bank statement for that account (unless disturbed by a filter query). Period balances ignore transactions before the report start date, so they show the change in balance during the report period. They are more useful eg when viewing a time log.

U toggles filtering by unmarked status, including or excluding unmarked postings in the balances. Similarly, P toggles pending postings, and C toggles cleared postings. (By default, balances include all postings; if you activate one or two status filters, only those postings are included; and if you activate all three, the filter is removed.)

R toggles real mode, in which virtual postings are ignored.

Z toggles nonzero mode, in which only accounts with nonzero balances are shown (hledger-ui shows zero items by default, unlike command-line hledger).

Press right or enter to view an account’s transactions register.

Register screen

This screen shows the transactions affecting a particular account, like a check register. Each line represents one transaction and shows:

If the accounts screen was in tree mode, the register screen will include transactions from both the current account and its subaccounts. If the accounts screen was in flat mode, and a non-depth-clipped account was selected, the register screen will exclude transactions from subaccounts. In other words, the register always shows the transactions responsible for the period balance shown on the accounts screen. As on the accounts screen, this can be toggled with F.

U toggles filtering by unmarked status, showing or hiding unmarked transactions. Similarly, P toggles pending transactions, and C toggles cleared transactions. (By default, transactions with all statuses are shown; if you activate one or two status filters, only those transactions are shown; and if you activate all three, the filter is removed.)q

R toggles real mode, in which virtual postings are ignored.

Z toggles nonzero mode, in which only transactions posting a nonzero change are shown (hledger-ui shows zero items by default, unlike command-line hledger).

Press right (or enter) to view the selected transaction in detail.

Transaction screen

This screen shows a single transaction, as a general journal entry, similar to hledger’s print command and journal format (hledger_journal(5)).

The transaction’s date(s) and any cleared flag, transaction code, description, comments, along with all of its account postings are shown. Simple transactions have two postings, but there can be more (or in certain cases, fewer).

up and down will step through all transactions listed in the previous account register screen. In the title bar, the numbers in parentheses show your position within that account register. They will vary depending on which account register you came from (remember most transactions appear in multiple account registers). The #N number preceding them is the transaction’s position within the complete unfiltered journal, which is a more stable id (at least until the next reload).

Error screen

This screen will appear if there is a problem, such as a parse error, when you press g to reload. Once you have fixed the problem, press g again to reload and resume normal operation. (Or, you can press escape to cancel the reload attempt.)

ENVIRONMENT

COLUMNS The screen width to use. Default: the full terminal width.

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f. Default: ~/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

FILES

Reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

BUGS

The need to precede options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

-f- doesn’t work (hledger-ui can’t read from stdin).

-V affects only the accounts screen.

When you press g, the current and all previous screens are regenerated, which may cause a noticeable pause with large files. Also there is no visual indication that this is in progress.

--watch is not yet fully robust. It works well for normal usage, but many file changes in a short time (eg saving the file thousands of times with an editor macro) can cause problems at least on OSX. Symptoms include: unresponsive UI, periodic resetting of the cursor position, momentary display of parse errors, high CPU usage eventually subsiding, and possibly a small but persistent build-up of CPU usage until the program is restarted.

hledger-web

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

hledger-web - web interface for the hledger accounting tool

SYNOPSIS

hledger-web [OPTIONS]
hledger web -- [OPTIONS]

DESCRIPTION

hledger is a cross-platform program for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).

hledger-web is hledger’s web interface. It starts a simple web application for browsing and adding transactions, and optionally opens it in a web browser window if possible. It provides a more user-friendly UI than the hledger CLI or hledger-ui interface, showing more at once (accounts, the current account register, balance charts) and allowing history-aware data entry, interactive searching, and bookmarking.

hledger-web also lets you share a ledger with multiple users, or even the public web. There is no access control, so if you need that you should put it behind a suitable web proxy. As a small protection against data loss when running an unprotected instance, it writes a numbered backup of the main journal file (only ?) on every edit.

Like hledger, it reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). For more about this see hledger(1), hledger_journal(5) etc.

By default, hledger-web starts the web app in “transient mode” and also opens it in your default web browser if possible. In this mode the web app will keep running for as long as you have it open in a browser window, and will exit after two minutes of inactivity (no requests and no browser windows viewing it). With --serve, it just runs the web app without exiting, and logs requests to the console.

By default the server listens on IP address 127.0.0.1, accessible only to local requests. You can use --host to change this, eg --host 0.0.0.0 to listen on all configured addresses.

Similarly, use --port to set a TCP port other than 5000, eg if you are running multiple hledger-web instances.

You can use --base-url to change the protocol, hostname, port and path that appear in hyperlinks, useful eg for integrating hledger-web within a larger website. The default is http://HOST:PORT/ using the server’s configured host address and TCP port (or http://HOST if PORT is 80).

With --file-url you can set a different base url for static files, eg for better caching or cookie-less serving on high performance websites.

Note there is no built-in access control (aside from listening on 127.0.0.1 by default). So you will need to hide hledger-web behind an authenticating proxy (such as apache or nginx) if you want to restrict who can see and add entries to your journal.

Command-line options and arguments may be used to set an initial filter on the data. This is not shown in the web UI, but it will be applied in addition to any search query entered there.

With journal and timeclock files (but not CSV files, currently) the web app detects changes made by other means and will show the new data on the next request. If a change makes the file unparseable, hledger-web will show an error until the file has been fixed.

OPTIONS

Note: if invoking hledger-web as a hledger subcommand, write -- before options as shown above.

--serve
serve and log requests, don’t browse or auto-exit
--host=IPADDR
listen on this IP address (default: 127.0.0.1)
--port=PORT
listen on this TCP port (default: 5000)
--base-url=URL
set the base url (default: http://IPADDR:PORT). You would change this when sharing over the network, or integrating within a larger website.
--file-url=URL
set the static files url (default: BASEURL/static). hledger-web normally serves static files itself, but if you wanted to serve them from another server for efficiency, you would set the url with this.

hledger input options:

-f FILE --file=FILE
use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)
--rules-file=RULESFILE
Conversion rules file to use when reading CSV (default: FILE.rules)
--separator=CHAR
Field separator to expect when reading CSV (default: ‘,’)
--alias=OLD=NEW
rename accounts named OLD to NEW
--anon
anonymize accounts and payees
--pivot FIELDNAME
use some other field or tag for the account name
-I --ignore-assertions
ignore any failing balance assertions

hledger reporting options:

-b --begin=DATE
include postings/txns on or after this date
-e --end=DATE
include postings/txns before this date
-D --daily
multiperiod/multicolumn report by day
-W --weekly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by week
-M --monthly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by month
-Q --quarterly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by quarter
-Y --yearly
multiperiod/multicolumn report by year
-p --period=PERIODEXP
set start date, end date, and/or reporting interval all at once using period expressions syntax (overrides the flags above)
--date2
match the secondary date instead (see command help for other effects)
-U --unmarked
include only unmarked postings/txns (can combine with -P or -C)
-P --pending
include only pending postings/txns
-C --cleared
include only cleared postings/txns
-R --real
include only non-virtual postings
-NUM --depth=NUM
hide/aggregate accounts or postings more than NUM levels deep
-E --empty
show items with zero amount, normally hidden (and vice-versa in hledger-ui/hledger-web)
-B --cost
convert amounts to their cost at transaction time (using the transaction price, if any)
-V --value
convert amounts to their market value on the report end date (using the most recent applicable market price, if any)
--auto
apply automated posting rules to modify transactions.
--forecast
apply periodic transaction rules to generate future transactions, to 6 months from now or report end date.

When a reporting option appears more than once in the command line, the last one takes precedence.

Some reporting options can also be written as query arguments.

hledger help options:

-h --help
show general usage (or after COMMAND, command usage)
--version
show version
--debug[=N]
show debug output (levels 1-9, default: 1)

A @FILE argument will be expanded to the contents of FILE, which should contain one command line option/argument per line. (To prevent this, insert a -- argument before.)

ENVIRONMENT

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f. Default: ~/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

FILES

Reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

BUGS

The need to precede options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

-f- doesn’t work (hledger-web can’t read from stdin).

Query arguments and some hledger options are ignored.

Does not work in text-mode browsers.

Does not work well on small screens.

hledger-api

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

hledger-api - web API server for the hledger accounting tool

SYNOPSIS

hledger-api [OPTIONS]
hledger api -- [OPTIONS]

DESCRIPTION

hledger is a cross-platform program for tracking money, time, or any other commodity, using double-entry accounting and a simple, editable file format. hledger is inspired by and largely compatible with ledger(1).

hledger-api is a simple web API server, intended to support client-side web apps operating on hledger data. It comes with a series of simple client-side app examples, which drive its evolution.

Like hledger, it reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal). For more about this see hledger(1), hledger_journal(5) etc.

The server listens on IP address 127.0.0.1, accessible only to local requests, by default. You can change this with --host, eg --host 0.0.0.0 to listen on all addresses. Note there is no other access control, and hledger-api allows file browsing, so on shared machines you will certainly need to put it behind an authenticating proxy to restrict access.

You can change the TCP port it listens on (default: 8001) with -p PORT.

API methods look like:

/api/v1/accountnames
        /api/v1/transactions
        /api/v1/prices
        /api/v1/commodities
        /api/v1/accounts
        /api/v1/accounts/ACCTNAME

See /api/swagger.json for a full list in Swagger 2.0 format. (Or you can run hledger-api --swagger to print this in the console.)

hledger-api also serves files, from the current directory by default, and the / path will also show a directory listing. This is convenient for serving client-side web code, in addition to the server-side api.

OPTIONS

Note: if invoking hledger-api as a hledger subcommand, write -- before options as shown above.

-f --file=FILE
use a different input file. For stdin, use - (default: $LEDGER_FILE or $HOME/.hledger.journal)
-d --static-dir=DIR
serve files from a different directory (default: .)
--host=IPADDR
listen on this IP address (default: 127.0.0.1)
-p --port=PORT
listen on this TCP port (default: 8001)
--swagger
print API docs in Swagger 2.0 format, and exit
--version
show version
-h --help
show usage

ENVIRONMENT

LEDGER_FILE The journal file path when not specified with -f. Default: ~/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

FILES

Reads data from one or more files in hledger journal, timeclock, timedot, or CSV format specified with -f, or $LEDGER_FILE, or $HOME/.hledger.journal (on windows, perhaps C:/Users/USER/.hledger.journal).

BUGS

The need to precede options with -- when invoked from hledger is awkward.

journal format

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

Journal - hledger’s default file format, representing a General Journal

DESCRIPTION

hledger’s usual data source is a plain text file containing journal entries in hledger journal format. This file represents a standard accounting general journal. I use file names ending in .journal, but that’s not required. The journal file contains a number of transaction entries, each describing a transfer of money (or any commodity) between two or more named accounts, in a simple format readable by both hledger and humans.

hledger’s journal format is a compatible subset, mostly, of ledger’s journal format, so hledger can work with compatible ledger journal files as well. It’s safe, and encouraged, to run both hledger and ledger on the same journal file, eg to validate the results you’re getting.

You can use hledger without learning any more about this file; just use the add or web commands to create and update it. Many users, though, also edit the journal file directly with a text editor, perhaps assisted by the helper modes for emacs or vim.

Here’s an example:

; A sample journal file. This is a comment.
        
        2008/01/01 income               ; <- transaction's first line starts in column 0, contains date and description
            assets:bank:checking  $1    ; <- posting lines start with whitespace, each contains an account name
            income:salary        $-1    ;    followed by at least two spaces and an amount
        
        2008/06/01 gift
            assets:bank:checking  $1    ; <- at least two postings in a transaction
            income:gifts         $-1    ; <- their amounts must balance to 0
        
        2008/06/02 save
            assets:bank:saving    $1
            assets:bank:checking        ; <- one amount may be omitted; here $-1 is inferred
        
        2008/06/03 eat & shop           ; <- description can be anything
            expenses:food         $1
            expenses:supplies     $1    ; <- this transaction debits two expense accounts
            assets:cash                 ; <- $-2 inferred
        
        2008/10/01 take a loan
            assets:bank:checking  $1
            liabilities:debts    $-1
        
        2008/12/31 * pay off            ; <- an optional * or ! after the date means "cleared" (or anything you want)
            liabilities:debts     $1
            assets:bank:checking

FILE FORMAT

Transactions

Transactions are movements of some quantity of commodities between named accounts. Each transaction is represented by a journal entry beginning with a simple date in column 0. This can be followed by any of the following, separated by spaces:

Then comes zero or more (but usually at least 2) indented lines representing…

Postings

A posting is an addition of some amount to, or removal of some amount from, an account. Each posting line begins with at least one space or tab (2 or 4 spaces is common), followed by:

Positive amounts are being added to the account, negative amounts are being removed.

The amounts within a transaction must always sum up to zero. As a convenience, one amount may be left blank; it will be inferred so as to balance the transaction.

Be sure to note the unusual two-space delimiter between account name and amount. This makes it easy to write account names containing spaces. But if you accidentally leave only one space (or tab) before the amount, the amount will be considered part of the account name.

Dates

Simple dates

Within a journal file, transaction dates use Y/M/D (or Y-M-D or Y.M.D) Leading zeros are optional. The year may be omitted, in which case it will be inferred from the context - the current transaction, the default year set with a default year directive, or the current date when the command is run. Some examples: 2010/01/31, 1/31, 2010-01-31, 2010.1.31.

Secondary dates

Real-life transactions sometimes involve more than one date - eg the date you write a cheque, and the date it clears in your bank. When you want to model this, eg for more accurate balances, you can specify individual posting dates, which I recommend. Or, you can use the secondary dates (aka auxiliary/effective dates) feature, supported for compatibility with Ledger.

A secondary date can be written after the primary date, separated by an equals sign. The primary date, on the left, is used by default; the secondary date, on the right, is used when the --date2 flag is specified (--aux-date or --effective also work).

The meaning of secondary dates is up to you, but it’s best to follow a consistent rule. Eg write the bank’s clearing date as primary, and when needed, the date the transaction was initiated as secondary.

Here’s an example. Note that a secondary date will use the year of the primary date if unspecified.

2010/2/23=2/19 movie ticket
          expenses:cinema                   $10
          assets:checking
$ hledger register checking
        2010/02/23 movie ticket         assets:checking                $-10         $-10
$ hledger register checking --date2
        2010/02/19 movie ticket         assets:checking                $-10         $-10

Secondary dates require some effort; you must use them consistently in your journal entries and remember whether to use or not use the --date2 flag for your reports. They are included in hledger for Ledger compatibility, but posting dates are a more powerful and less confusing alternative.

Posting dates

You can give individual postings a different date from their parent transaction, by adding a posting comment containing a tag (see below) like date:DATE. This is probably the best way to control posting dates precisely. Eg in this example the expense should appear in May reports, and the deduction from checking should be reported on 6/1 for easy bank reconciliation:

2015/5/30
            expenses:food     $10   ; food purchased on saturday 5/30
            assets:checking         ; bank cleared it on monday, date:6/1
$ hledger -f t.j register food
        2015/05/30                      expenses:food                  $10           $10
$ hledger -f t.j register checking
        2015/06/01                      assets:checking               $-10          $-10

DATE should be a simple date; if the year is not specified it will use the year of the transaction’s date. You can set the secondary date similarly, with date2:DATE2. The date: or date2: tags must have a valid simple date value if they are present, eg a date: tag with no value is not allowed.

Ledger’s earlier, more compact bracketed date syntax is also supported: [DATE], [DATE=DATE2] or [=DATE2]. hledger will attempt to parse any square-bracketed sequence of the 0123456789/-.= characters in this way. With this syntax, DATE infers its year from the transaction and DATE2 infers its year from DATE.

Status

Transactions, or individual postings within a transaction, can have a status mark, which is a single character before the transaction description or posting account name, separated from it by a space, indicating one of three statuses:

mark   status
  unmarked
! pending
* cleared

When reporting, you can filter by status with the -U/--unmarked, -P/--pending, and -C/--cleared flags; or the status:, status:!, and status:* queries; or the U, P, C keys in hledger-ui.

Note, in Ledger and in older versions of hledger, the “unmarked” state is called “uncleared”. As of hledger 1.3 we have renamed it to unmarked for clarity.

To replicate Ledger and old hledger’s behaviour of also matching pending, combine -U and -P.

Status marks are optional, but can be helpful eg for reconciling with real-world accounts. Some editor modes provide highlighting and shortcuts for working with status. Eg in Emacs ledger-mode, you can toggle transaction status with C-c C-e, or posting status with C-c C-c.

What “uncleared”, “pending”, and “cleared” actually mean is up to you. Here’s one suggestion:

status meaning
uncleared recorded but not yet reconciled; needs review
pending tentatively reconciled (if needed, eg during a big reconciliation)
cleared complete, reconciled as far as possible, and considered correct

With this scheme, you would use -PC to see the current balance at your bank, -U to see things which will probably hit your bank soon (like uncashed checks), and no flags to see the most up-to-date state of your finances.

Description

A transaction’s description is the rest of the line following the date and status mark (or until a comment begins). Sometimes called the “narration” in traditional bookkeeping, it can be used for whatever you wish, or left blank. Transaction descriptions can be queried, unlike comments.

Payee and note

You can optionally include a | (pipe) character in a description to subdivide it into a payee/payer name on the left and additional notes on the right. This may be worthwhile if you need to do more precise querying and pivoting by payee.

Account names

Account names typically have several parts separated by a full colon, from which hledger derives a hierarchical chart of accounts. They can be anything you like, but in finance there are traditionally five top-level accounts: assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and equity.

Account names may contain single spaces, eg: assets:accounts receivable. Because of this, they must always be followed by two or more spaces (or newline).

Account names can be aliased.

Amounts

After the account name, there is usually an amount. Important: between account name and amount, there must be two or more spaces.

Amounts consist of a number and (usually) a currency symbol or commodity name. Some examples:

2.00001
$1
4000 AAPL
3 "green apples"
-$1,000,000.00
INR 9,99,99,999.00
EUR -2.000.000,00
1 999 999.9455
EUR 1E3
1000E-6s

As you can see, the amount format is somewhat flexible:

You can use any of these variations when recording data. However, there is some ambiguous way of representing numbers like $1.000 and $1,000 both may mean either one thousand or one dollar. By default hledger will assume that this is sole delimiter is used only for decimals. On the other hand commodity format declared prior to that line will help to resolve that ambiguity differently:

commodity $1,000.00
        
        2017/12/25 New life of Scrooge
            expenses:gifts  $1,000
            assets

Though journal may contain mixed styles to represent amount, when hledger displays amounts, it will choose a consistent format for each commodity. (Except for price amounts, which are always formatted as written). The display format is chosen as follows:

Price amounts and amounts in D directives usually don’t affect amount format inference, but in some situations they can do so indirectly. (Eg when D’s default commodity is applied to a commodity-less amount, or when an amountless posting is balanced using a price’s commodity, or when -V is used.) If you find this causing problems, set the desired format with a commodity directive.

Virtual Postings

When you parenthesise the account name in a posting, we call that a virtual posting, which means:

You could use this, eg, to set an account’s opening balance without needing to use the equity:opening balances account:

1/1 special unbalanced posting to set initial balance
          (assets:checking)   $1000

When the account name is bracketed, we call it a balanced virtual posting. This is like an ordinary virtual posting except the balanced virtual postings in a transaction must balance to 0, like the real postings (but separately from them). Balanced virtual postings are also excluded by --real/-R or real:1.

1/1 buy food with cash, and update some budget-tracking subaccounts elsewhere
          expenses:food                   $10
          assets:cash                    $-10
          [assets:checking:available]     $10
          [assets:checking:budget:food]  $-10

Virtual postings have some legitimate uses, but those are few. You can usually find an equivalent journal entry using real postings, which is more correct and provides better error checking.

Balance Assertions

hledger supports Ledger-style balance assertions in journal files. These look like =EXPECTEDBALANCE following a posting’s amount. Eg in this example we assert the expected dollar balance in accounts a and b after each posting:

2013/1/1
          a   $1  =$1
          b       =$-1
        
        2013/1/2
          a   $1  =$2
          b  $-1  =$-2

After reading a journal file, hledger will check all balance assertions and report an error if any of them fail. Balance assertions can protect you from, eg, inadvertently disrupting reconciled balances while cleaning up old entries. You can disable them temporarily with the --ignore-assertions flag, which can be useful for troubleshooting or for reading Ledger files.

Assertions and ordering

hledger sorts an account’s postings and assertions first by date and then (for postings on the same day) by parse order. Note this is different from Ledger, which sorts assertions only by parse order. (Also, Ledger assertions do not see the accumulated effect of repeated postings to the same account within a transaction.)

So, hledger balance assertions keep working if you reorder differently-dated transactions within the journal. But if you reorder same-dated transactions or postings, assertions might break and require updating. This order dependence does bring an advantage: precise control over the order of postings and assertions within a day, so you can assert intra-day balances.

Assertions and included files

With included files, things are a little more complicated. Including preserves the ordering of postings and assertions. If you have multiple postings to an account on the same day, split across different files, and you also want to assert the account’s balance on the same day, you’ll have to put the assertion in the right file.

Assertions and multiple -f options

Balance assertions don’t work well across files specified with multiple -f options. Use include or concatenate the files instead.

Assertions and commodities

The asserted balance must be a simple single-commodity amount, and in fact the assertion checks only this commodity’s balance within the (possibly multi-commodity) account balance. We could call this a partial balance assertion. This is compatible with Ledger, and makes it possible to make assertions about accounts containing multiple commodities.

To assert each commodity’s balance in such a multi-commodity account, you can add multiple postings (with amount 0 if necessary). But note that no matter how many assertions you add, you can’t be sure the account does not contain some unexpected commodity. (We’ll add support for this kind of total balance assertion if there’s demand.)

Assertions and subaccounts

Balance assertions do not count the balance from subaccounts; they check the posted account’s exclusive balance. For example:

1/1
          checking:fund   1 = 1  ; post to this subaccount, its balance is now 1
          checking        1 = 1  ; post to the parent account, its exclusive balance is now 1
          equity

The balance report’s flat mode shows these exclusive balances more clearly:

$ hledger bal checking --flat
                           1  checking
                           1  checking:fund
        --------------------
                           2
Assertions and virtual postings

Balance assertions are checked against all postings, both real and virtual. They are not affected by the --real/-R flag or real: query.

Balance Assignments

Ledger-style balance assignments are also supported. These are like balance assertions, but with no posting amount on the left side of the equals sign; instead it is calculated automatically so as to satisfy the assertion. This can be a convenience during data entry, eg when setting opening balances:

; starting a new journal, set asset account balances 
        2016/1/1 opening balances
          assets:checking            = $409.32
          assets:savings             = $735.24
          assets:cash                 = $42
          equity:opening balances

or when adjusting a balance to reality:

; no cash left; update balance, record any untracked spending as a generic expense
        2016/1/15
          assets:cash    = $0
          expenses:misc

The calculated amount depends on the account’s balance in the commodity at that point (which depends on the previously-dated postings of the commodity to that account since the last balance assertion or assignment). Note that using balance assignments makes your journal a little less explicit; to know the exact amount posted, you have to run hledger or do the calculations yourself, instead of just reading it.

Transaction prices

Within a transaction, you can note an amount’s price in another commodity. This can be used to document the cost (in a purchase) or selling price (in a sale). For example, transaction prices are useful to record purchases of a foreign currency. Note transaction prices are fixed at the time of the transaction, and do not change over time. See also market prices, which represent prevailing exchange rates on a certain date.

There are several ways to record a transaction price:

  1. Write the price per unit, as @ UNITPRICE after the amount:

    2009/1/1
              assets:euros     €100 @ $1.35  ; one hundred euros purchased at $1.35 each
              assets:dollars                 ; balancing amount is -$135.00
  2. Write the total price, as @@ TOTALPRICE after the amount:

    2009/1/1
              assets:euros     €100 @@ $135  ; one hundred euros purchased at $135 for the lot
              assets:dollars
  3. Specify amounts for all postings, using exactly two commodities, and let hledger infer the price that balances the transaction:

    2009/1/1
              assets:euros     €100          ; one hundred euros purchased
              assets:dollars  $-135          ; for $135

(Ledger users: Ledger uses a different syntax for fixed prices, {=UNITPRICE}, which hledger currently ignores).

Use the -B/--cost flag to convert amounts to their transaction price’s commodity, if any. (mnemonic: “B” is from “cost Basis”, as in Ledger). Eg here is how -B affects the balance report for the example above:

$ hledger bal -N --flat
                       $-135  assets:dollars
                        €100  assets:euros
        $ hledger bal -N --flat -B
                       $-135  assets:dollars
                        $135  assets:euros    # <- the euros' cost

Note -B is sensitive to the order of postings when a transaction price is inferred: the inferred price will be in the commodity of the last amount. So if example 3’s postings are reversed, while the transaction is equivalent, -B shows something different:

2009/1/1
          assets:dollars  $-135               ; 135 dollars sold
          assets:euros     €100               ; for 100 euros
$ hledger bal -N --flat -B
                       €-100  assets:dollars  # <- the dollars' selling price
                        €100  assets:euros

Comments

Lines in the journal beginning with a semicolon (;) or hash (#) or star (*) are comments, and will be ignored. (Star comments cause org-mode nodes to be ignored, allowing emacs users to fold and navigate their journals with org-mode or orgstruct-mode.)

You can attach comments to a transaction by writing them after the description and/or indented on the following lines (before the postings). Similarly, you can attach comments to an individual posting by writing them after the amount and/or indented on the following lines. Transaction and posting comments must begin with a semicolon (;).

Some examples:

# a file comment
        
        ; also a file comment
        
        comment
        This is a multiline file comment,
        which continues until a line
        where the "end comment" string
        appears on its own (or end of file).
        end comment
        
        2012/5/14 something  ; a transaction comment
            ; the transaction comment, continued
            posting1  1  ; a comment for posting 1
            posting2
            ; a comment for posting 2
            ; another comment line for posting 2
        ; a file comment (because not indented)

You can also comment larger regions of a file using comment and end comment directives.

Tags

Tags are a way to add extra labels or labelled data to postings and transactions, which you can then search or pivot on.

A simple tag is a word (which may contain hyphens) followed by a full colon, written inside a transaction or posting comment line:

2017/1/16 bought groceries    ; sometag:

Tags can have a value, which is the text after the colon, up to the next comma or end of line, with leading/trailing whitespace removed:

    expenses:food    $10   ; a-posting-tag: the tag value

Note this means hledger’s tag values can not contain commas or newlines. Ending at commas means you can write multiple short tags on one line, comma separated:

    assets:checking       ; a comment containing tag1:, tag2: some value ...

Here,

Tags in a transaction comment affect the transaction and all of its postings, while tags in a posting comment affect only that posting. For example, the following transaction has three tags (A, TAG2, third-tag) and the posting has four (those plus posting-tag):

1/1 a transaction  ; A:, TAG2:
            ; third-tag: a third transaction tag, <- with a value
            (a)  $1  ; posting-tag:

Tags are like Ledger’s metadata feature, except hledger’s tag values are simple strings.

Directives

A directive is a line in the journal beginning with a special keyword, that influences how the journal is processed. hledger’s directives are based on a subset of Ledger’s, but there are many differences (and also some differences between hledger versions).

Directives’ behaviour and interactions can get a little bit complex, so here is a table summarising the directives and their effects, with links to more detailed docs.

directive end directive subdirectives purpose can affect (as of 2018/06)
account any text declare an account name & optional account code account code: balance reports (except balance single-column mode)
alias end aliases rewrite account names following inline/included entries until end of current file or end directive
apply account end apply account prepend a common parent to account names following inline/included entries until end of current file or end directive
comment end comment ignore part of journal following inline/included entries until end of current file or end directive
commodity format declare a commodity and its number notation & display style number notation: following entries in that commodity in all files;
display style: amounts of that commodity in reports
D declare a commodity, number notation & display style for commodityless amounts commodity: all commodityless entries in all files;
number notation: following commodityless entries and entries in that commodity in all files;
display style: amounts of that commodity in reports
include include entries/directives from another file what the included directives affect
P declare a market price for a commodity amounts of that commodity in reports, when -V is used
Y declare a year for yearless dates following inline/included entries until end of current file

And some definitions:

subdirective optional indented directive or unparsed text lines immediately following a parent directive
account code numeric code influencing account display order in most balance reports
number notation how to interpret numbers when parsing journal entries (the identity of the decimal separator character). (Currently each commodity can have its own notation, even in the same file.)
display style how to display amounts of a commodity in reports (symbol side and spacing, digit groups, decimal separator, decimal places)
directive scope which entries and (when there are multiple files) which files are affected by a directive

As you can see, directives vary in which journal entries and files they affect, and whether they are focussed on input (parsing) or output (reports). Some directives have multiple effects.

If you have a journal made up of multiple files, or pass multiple -f options on the command line, note that directives which affect input typically last only until the end of their defining file. This provides more simplicity and predictability, eg reports are not changed by writing file options in a different order. It can be surprising at times though.

Comment blocks

A line containing just comment starts a commented region of the file, and a line containing just end comment (or the end of the current file) ends it. See also comments.

Including other files

You can pull in the content of additional files by writing an include directive, like this:

include path/to/file.journal

If the path does not begin with a slash, it is relative to the current file. The include file path may contain common glob patterns (e.g. *).

The include directive can only be used in journal files. It can include journal, timeclock or timedot files, but not CSV files.

Default year

You can set a default year to be used for subsequent dates which don’t specify a year. This is a line beginning with Y followed by the year. Eg:

Y2009      ; set default year to 2009
        
        12/15      ; equivalent to 2009/12/15
          expenses  1
          assets
        
        Y2010      ; change default year to 2010
        
        2009/1/30  ; specifies the year, not affected
          expenses  1
          assets
        
        1/31       ; equivalent to 2010/1/31
          expenses  1
          assets
Declaring commodities

The commodity directive declares commodities which may be used in the journal (though currently we do not enforce this). It may be written on a single line, like this:

; commodity EXAMPLEAMOUNT
        
        ; display AAAA amounts with the symbol on the right, space-separated,
        ; using period as decimal point, with four decimal places, and
        ; separating thousands with comma.
        commodity 1,000.0000 AAAA

or on multiple lines, using the “format” subdirective. In this case the commodity symbol appears twice and should be the same in both places:

; commodity SYMBOL
        ;   format EXAMPLEAMOUNT
        
        ; display indian rupees with currency name on the left,
        ; thousands, lakhs and crores comma-separated,
        ; period as decimal point, and two decimal places.
        commodity INR
          format INR 9,99,99,999.00

Commodity directives have a second purpose: they define the standard display format for amounts in the commodity. Normally the display format is inferred from journal entries, but this can be unpredictable; declaring it with a commodity directive overrides this and removes ambiguity. Towards this end, amounts in commodity directives must always be written with a decimal point (a period or comma, followed by 0 or more decimal digits).

Default commodity

The D directive sets a default commodity (and display format), to be used for amounts without a commodity symbol (ie, plain numbers). (Note this differs from Ledger’s default commodity directive.) The commodity and display format will be applied to all subsequent commodity-less amounts, or until the next D directive.

# commodity-less amounts should be treated as dollars
        # (and displayed with symbol on the left, thousands separators and two decimal places)
        D $1,000.00
        
        1/1
          a     5    ; <- commodity-less amount, becomes $1
          b

As with the commodity directive, the amount must always be written with a decimal point.

Market prices

The P directive declares a market price, which is an exchange rate between two commodities on a certain date. (In Ledger, they are called “historical prices”.) These are often obtained from a stock exchange, cryptocurrency exchange, or the foreign exchange market.

Here is the format:

P DATE COMMODITYA COMMODITYBAMOUNT

These two market price directives say that one euro was worth 1.35 US dollars during 2009, and $1.40 from 2010 onward:

P 2009/1/1 € $1.35
        P 2010/1/1 € $1.40

The -V/--value flag can be used to convert reported amounts to another commodity using these prices.

Declaring accounts

The account directive predeclares account names. The simplest form is account ACCTNAME, eg:

account assets:bank:checking

Currently this mainly helps with account name autocompletion in eg hledger add, hledger-iadd, hledger-web, and ledger-mode.
In future it will also help detect misspelled accounts.

Account names can be followed by a numeric account code:

account assets                  1000
        account assets:bank:checking    1110
        account liabilities             2000
        account revenues                4000
        account expenses                6000

This affects how accounts are sorted in account and balance reports: accounts with codes are listed before accounts without codes, and in increasing code order (instead of listing all accounts alphabetically). Warning, this feature is incomplete; account codes do not yet affect sort order in

Account codes should be all numeric digits, unique, and separated from the account name by at least two spaces (since account names may contain single spaces). By convention, often the first digit indicates the type of account, as in this numbering scheme and the example above. In future, we might use this to recognize account types.

An account directive can also have indented subdirectives following it, which are currently ignored. Here is the full syntax:

; account ACCTNAME  [OPTIONALCODE]
        ;   [OPTIONALSUBDIRECTIVES]
        
        account assets:bank:checking   1110
          a comment
          some-tag:12345
Rewriting accounts

You can define account alias rules which rewrite your account names, or parts of them, before generating reports. This can be useful for:

Account aliases also rewrite account names in account directives. They do not affect account names being entered via hledger add or hledger-web.

See also Cookbook: Rewrite account names.

Basic aliases

To set an account alias, use the alias directive in your journal file. This affects all subsequent journal entries in the current file or its included files. The spaces around the = are optional:

alias OLD = NEW

Or, you can use the --alias 'OLD=NEW' option on the command line. This affects all entries. It’s useful for trying out aliases interactively.

OLD and NEW are case sensitive full account names. hledger will replace any occurrence of the old account name with the new one. Subaccounts are also affected. Eg:

alias checking = assets:bank:wells fargo:checking
        # rewrites "checking" to "assets:bank:wells fargo:checking", or "checking:a" to "assets:bank:wells fargo:checking:a"
Regex aliases

There is also a more powerful variant that uses a regular expression, indicated by the forward slashes:

alias /REGEX/ = REPLACEMENT

or --alias '/REGEX/=REPLACEMENT'.

REGEX is a case-insensitive regular expression. Anywhere it matches inside an account name, the matched part will be replaced by REPLACEMENT. If REGEX contains parenthesised match groups, these can be referenced by the usual numeric backreferences in REPLACEMENT. Eg:

alias /^(.+):bank:([^:]+)(.*)/ = \1:\2 \3
        # rewrites "assets:bank:wells fargo:checking" to  "assets:wells fargo checking"

Also note that REPLACEMENT continues to the end of line (or on command line, to end of option argument), so it can contain trailing whitespace.

Multiple aliases

You can define as many aliases as you like using directives or command-line options. Aliases are recursive - each alias sees the result of applying previous ones. (This is different from Ledger, where aliases are non-recursive by default). Aliases are applied in the following order:

  1. alias directives, most recently seen first (recent directives take precedence over earlier ones; directives not yet seen are ignored)
  2. alias options, in the order they appear on the command line
end aliases

You can clear (forget) all currently defined aliases with the end aliases directive:

end aliases
Default parent account

You can specify a parent account which will be prepended to all accounts within a section of the journal. Use the apply account and end apply account directives like so:

apply account home
        
        2010/1/1
            food    $10
            cash
        
        end apply account

which is equivalent to:

2010/01/01
            home:food           $10
            home:cash          $-10

If end apply account is omitted, the effect lasts to the end of the file. Included files are also affected, eg:

apply account business
        include biz.journal
        end apply account
        apply account personal
        include personal.journal

Prior to hledger 1.0, legacy account and end spellings were also supported.

A default parent account also affects account directives. It does not affect account names being entered via hledger add or hledger-web. If account aliases are present, they are applied after the default parent account.

Periodic transactions

Periodic transaction rules describe transactions that recur. They allow you to generate future transactions for forecasting, without having to write them out explicitly in the journal (with --forecast). Secondly, they also can be used to define budget goals (with --budget).

A periodic transaction rule looks like a normal journal entry, with the date replaced by a tilde (~) followed by a period expression (mnemonic: ~ looks like a recurring sine wave.):

~ monthly
            expenses:rent          $2000
            assets:bank:checking

There is an additional constraint on the period expression: the start date must fall on a natural boundary of the interval. Eg monthly from 2018/1/1 is valid, but monthly from 2018/1/15 is not.

If you write a transaction description or same-line comment, it must be separated from the period expression by two or more spaces. Eg:

;                              2 or more spaces
        ;                                    ||
        ;                                    vv
        ~ every 2 weeks from 2018/6 to 2018/9  paycheck
            assets:bank:checking   $1500
            income:acme inc
Forecasting with periodic transactions

With the --forecast flag, each periodic transaction rule generates future transactions recurring at the specified interval. These are not saved in the journal, but appear in all reports. They will look like normal transactions, but with an extra tag named recur, whose value is the generating period expression.

Forecast transactions start on the first occurrence, and end on the last occurrence, of their interval within the forecast period. The forecast period:

where “today” means the current date at report time. The “later of” rule ensures that forecast transactions do not overlap normal transactions in time; they will begin only after normal transactions end.

Forecasting can be useful for estimating balances into the future, and experimenting with different scenarios. Note the start date logic means that forecasted transactions are automatically replaced by normal transactions as you add those.

Forecasting can also help with data entry: describe most of your transactions with periodic rules, and every so often copy the output of print --forecast to the journal.

You can generate one-time transactions too: just write a period expression specifying a date with no report interval. (You could also write a normal transaction with a future date, but remember this disables forecast transactions on previous dates.)

Budgeting with periodic transactions

With the --budget flag, currently supported by the balance command, each periodic transaction rule declares recurring budget goals for the specified accounts. Eg the first example above declares a goal of spending $2000 on rent (and also, a goal of depositing $2000 into checking) every month. Goals and actual performance can then be compared in budget reports.

For more details, see: balance: Budget report and Cookbook: Budgeting and Forecasting.

Transaction Modifiers

Transaction modifier rules describe changes that should be applied automatically to certain transactions. Currently, this means adding extra postings (also known as “automated postings”). Transaction modifiers are enabled by the --auto flag.

A transaction modifier rule looks a bit like a normal journal entry, except the first line is an equal sign (=) followed by a query (mnemonic: = suggests matching something.):

= expenses:gifts
            budget:gifts  *-1
            assets:budget  *1

The posting amounts can be of the form *N, which means “the amount of the matched transaction’s first posting, multiplied by N”. They can also be ordinary fixed amounts. Fixed amounts with no commodity symbol will be given the same commodity as the matched transaction’s first posting.

This example adds a corresponding (unbalanced) budget posting to every transaction involving the expenses:gifts account:

= expenses:gifts
            (budget:gifts)  *-1
        
        2017-12-14
          expenses:gifts  $20
          assets
$ hledger print --auto
        2017/12/14
            expenses:gifts             $20
            (budget:gifts)            $-20
            assets

Like postings recorded by hand, automated postings participate in transaction balancing, missing amount inference and balance assertions.

EDITOR SUPPORT

Add-on modes exist for various text editors, to make working with journal files easier. They add colour, navigation aids and helpful commands. For hledger users who edit the journal file directly (the majority), using one of these modes is quite recommended.

These were written with Ledger in mind, but also work with hledger files:

Editor
Emacs http://www.ledger-cli.org/3.0/doc/ledger-mode.html
Vim https://github.com/ledger/vim-ledger
Sublime Text https://github.com/ledger/ledger/wiki/Editing-Ledger-files-with-Sublime-Text-or-RubyMine
Textmate https://github.com/ledger/ledger/wiki/Using-TextMate-2
Text Wrangler   https://github.com/ledger/ledger/wiki/Editing-Ledger-files-with-TextWrangler
Visual Studio Code https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=mark-hansen.hledger-vscode

csv format

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

CSV - how hledger reads CSV data, and the CSV rules file format

DESCRIPTION

hledger can read CSV (comma-separated value) files as if they were journal files, automatically converting each CSV record into a transaction. (To learn about writing CSV, see CSV output.)

Converting CSV to transactions requires some special conversion rules. These do several things:

When reading a CSV file named FILE.csv, hledger looks for a conversion rules file named FILE.csv.rules in the same directory. You can override this with the --rules-file option. If the rules file does not exist, hledger will auto-create one with some example rules, which you’ll need to adjust.

At minimum, the rules file must identify the date and amount fields. It may also be necessary to specify the date format, and the number of header lines to skip. Eg:

fields date, _, _, amount
        date-format  %d/%m/%Y
        skip 1

A more complete example:

# hledger CSV rules for amazon.com order history
        
        # sample:
        # "Date","Type","To/From","Name","Status","Amount","Fees","Transaction ID"
        # "Jul 29, 2012","Payment","To","Adapteva, Inc.","Completed","$25.00","$0.00","17LA58JSK6PRD4HDGLNJQPI1PB9N8DKPVHL"
        
        # skip one header line
        skip 1
        
        # name the csv fields (and assign the transaction's date, amount and code)
        fields date, _, toorfrom, name, amzstatus, amount, fees, code
        
        # how to parse the date
        date-format %b %-d, %Y
        
        # combine two fields to make the description
        description %toorfrom %name
        
        # save these fields as tags
        comment     status:%amzstatus, fees:%fees
        
        # set the base account for all transactions
        account1    assets:amazon
        
        # flip the sign on the amount
        amount      -%amount

For more examples, see Convert CSV files.

CSV RULES

The following seven kinds of rule can appear in the rules file, in any order. Blank lines and lines beginning with # or ; are ignored.

skip

skipN

Skip this number of CSV records at the beginning. You’ll need this whenever your CSV data contains header lines. Eg:

# ignore the first CSV line
        skip 1

date-format

date-formatDATEFMT

When your CSV date fields are not formatted like YYYY/MM/DD (or YYYY-MM-DD or YYYY.MM.DD), you’ll need to specify the format. DATEFMT is a strptime-like date parsing pattern, which must parse the date field values completely. Examples:

# for dates like "6/11/2013":
        date-format %-d/%-m/%Y
# for dates like "11/06/2013":
        date-format %m/%d/%Y
# for dates like "2013-Nov-06":
        date-format %Y-%h-%d
# for dates like "11/6/2013 11:32 PM":
        date-format %-m/%-d/%Y %l:%M %p

field list

fieldsFIELDNAME1, FIELDNAME2

This (a) names the CSV fields, in order (names may not contain whitespace; uninteresting names may be left blank), and (b) assigns them to journal entry fields if you use any of these standard field names: date, date2, status, code, description, comment, account1, account2, amount, amount-in, amount-out, currency, balance. Eg:

# use the 1st, 2nd and 4th CSV fields as the entry's date, description and amount,
        # and give the 7th and 8th fields meaningful names for later reference:
        #
        # CSV field:
        #      1     2            3 4       5 6 7          8
        # entry field:
        fields date, description, , amount, , , somefield, anotherfield

field assignment

ENTRYFIELDNAME FIELDVALUE

This sets a journal entry field (one of the standard names above) to the given text value, which can include CSV field values interpolated by name (%CSVFIELDNAME) or 1-based position (%N). Eg:

# set the amount to the 4th CSV field with "USD " prepended
        amount USD %4
# combine three fields to make a comment (containing two tags)
        comment note: %somefield - %anotherfield, date: %1

Field assignments can be used instead of or in addition to a field list.

conditional block

if PATTERN
    FIELDASSIGNMENTS

if
PATTERN
PATTERN
    FIELDASSIGNMENTS

This applies one or more field assignments, only to those CSV records matched by one of the PATTERNs. The patterns are case-insensitive regular expressions which match anywhere within the whole CSV record (it’s not yet possible to match within a specific field). When there are multiple patterns they can be written on separate lines, unindented. The field assignments are on separate lines indented by at least one space. Examples:

# if the CSV record contains "groceries", set account2 to "expenses:groceries"
        if groceries
         account2 expenses:groceries
# if the CSV record contains any of these patterns, set account2 and comment as shown
        if
        monthly service fee
        atm transaction fee
        banking thru software
         account2 expenses:business:banking
         comment  XXX deductible ? check it

include

includeRULESFILE

Include another rules file at this point. RULESFILE is either an absolute file path or a path relative to the current file’s directory. Eg:

# rules reused with several CSV files
        include common.rules

newest-first

newest-first

Consider adding this rule if all of the following are true: you might be processing just one day of data, your CSV records are in reverse chronological order (newest first), and you care about preserving the order of same-day transactions. It usually isn’t needed, because hledger autodetects the CSV order, but when all CSV records have the same date it will assume they are oldest first.

CSV TIPS

CSV ordering

The generated journal entries will be sorted by date. The order of same-day entries will be preserved (except in the special case where you might need newest-first, see above).

CSV accounts

Each journal entry will have two postings, to account1 and account2 respectively. It’s not yet possible to generate entries with more than two postings. It’s conventional and recommended to use account1 for the account whose CSV we are reading.

CSV amounts

The amount field sets the amount of the account1 posting.

If the CSV has debit/credit amounts in separate fields, assign to the amount-in and amount-out pseudo fields instead. (Whichever one has a value will be used, with appropriate sign. If both contain a value, it may not work so well.)

If an amount value is parenthesised, it will be de-parenthesised and sign-flipped.

If an amount value begins with a double minus sign, those will cancel out and be removed.

If the CSV has the currency symbol in a separate field, assign that to the currency pseudo field to have it prepended to the amount. Or, you can use a field assignment to amount that interpolates both CSV fields (giving more control, eg to put the currency symbol on the right).

CSV balance assertions

If the CSV includes a running balance, you can assign that to the balance pseudo field; whenever the running balance value is non-empty, it will be asserted as the balance after the account1 posting.

Reading multiple CSV files

You can read multiple CSV files at once using multiple -f arguments on the command line, and hledger will look for a correspondingly-named rules file for each. Note if you use the --rules-file option, this one rules file will be used for all the CSV files being read.

timeclock format

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

Timeclock - the time logging format of timeclock.el, as read by hledger

DESCRIPTION

hledger can read timeclock files. As with Ledger, these are (a subset of) timeclock.el’s format, containing clock-in and clock-out entries as in the example below. The date is a simple date. The time format is HH:MM[:SS][+-ZZZZ]. Seconds and timezone are optional. The timezone, if present, must be four digits and is ignored (currently the time is always interpreted as a local time).

i 2015/03/30 09:00:00 some:account name  optional description after two spaces
        o 2015/03/30 09:20:00
        i 2015/03/31 22:21:45 another account
        o 2015/04/01 02:00:34

hledger treats each clock-in/clock-out pair as a transaction posting some number of hours to an account. Or if the session spans more than one day, it is split into several transactions, one for each day. For the above time log, hledger print generates these journal entries:

$ hledger -f t.timeclock print
        2015/03/30 * optional description after two spaces
            (some:account name)         0.33h
        
        2015/03/31 * 22:21-23:59
            (another account)         1.64h
        
        2015/04/01 * 00:00-02:00
            (another account)         2.01h

Here is a sample.timeclock to download and some queries to try:

$ hledger -f sample.timeclock balance                               # current time balances
        $ hledger -f sample.timeclock register -p 2009/3                    # sessions in march 2009
        $ hledger -f sample.timeclock register -p weekly --depth 1 --empty  # time summary by week

To generate time logs, ie to clock in and clock out, you could:

timedot format

This doc is for version 1.10.99 (dev).

NAME

Timedot - hledger’s human-friendly time logging format

DESCRIPTION

Timedot is a plain text format for logging dated, categorised quantities (of time, usually), supported by hledger. It is convenient for approximate and retroactive time logging, eg when the real-time clock-in/out required with a timeclock file is too precise or too interruptive. It can be formatted like a bar chart, making clear at a glance where time was spent.

Though called “timedot”, this format is read by hledger as commodityless quantities, so it could be used to represent dated quantities other than time. In the docs below we’ll assume it’s time.

FILE FORMAT

A timedot file contains a series of day entries. A day entry begins with a date, and is followed by category/quantity pairs, one per line. Dates are hledger-style simple dates (see hledger_journal(5)). Categories are hledger-style account names, optionally indented. As in a hledger journal, there must be at least two spaces between the category (account name) and the quantity.

Quantities can be written as:

Blank lines and lines beginning with #, ; or * are ignored. An example:

# on this day, 6h was spent on client work, 1.5h on haskell FOSS work, etc.
        2016/2/1
        inc:client1   .... .... .... .... .... ....
        fos:haskell   .... .. 
        biz:research  .
        
        2016/2/2
        inc:client1   .... ....
        biz:research  .

Or with numbers:

2016/2/3
        inc:client1   4
        fos:hledger   3
        biz:research  1

Reporting:

$ hledger -f t.timedot print date:2016/2/2
        2016/02/02 *
            (inc:client1)          2.00
        
        2016/02/02 *
            (biz:research)          0.25
$ hledger -f t.timedot bal --daily --tree
        Balance changes in 2016/02/01-2016/02/03:
        
                    ||  2016/02/01d  2016/02/02d  2016/02/03d 
        ============++========================================
         biz        ||         0.25         0.25         1.00 
           research ||         0.25         0.25         1.00 
         fos        ||         1.50            0         3.00 
           haskell  ||         1.50            0            0 
           hledger  ||            0            0         3.00 
         inc        ||         6.00         2.00         4.00 
           client1  ||         6.00         2.00         4.00 
        ------------++----------------------------------------
                    ||         7.75         2.25         8.00 

I prefer to use period for separating account components. We can make this work with an account alias:

2016/2/4
        fos.hledger.timedot  4
        fos.ledger           ..
$ hledger -f t.timedot --alias /\\./=: bal date:2016/2/4
                        4.50  fos
                        4.00    hledger:timedot
                        0.50    ledger
        --------------------
                        4.50

Here is a sample.timedot.