This doc is for version 1.15.2 .


hledger - a command-line accounting tool


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


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 terminal 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

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.


Two simple transactions in hledger journal format:

2015/9/30 gift received
  assets:cash   $20

2015/10/16 farmers market
  expenses:food    $10

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
$ hledger balance
                 $10  assets:cash
                 $10  expenses:food
                $-20  income:gifts
$ 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


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

--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 in arguments and queries

In shell command lines, option and argument values which contain "problematic" characters, ie spaces, and also characters significant to your shell such as <, >, (, ), | and $, should be escaped by enclosing them in quotes or by writing backslashes before the characters. Eg:

hledger register -p 'last year' "accounts receivable (receivable|payable)" amt:\>100.

More escaping

Characters significant both to the shell and in regular expressions may need one extra level of escaping. These include parentheses, the pipe symbol and the dollar sign. Eg, to match the dollar symbol, bash users should do:

hledger balance cur:'\$'


hledger balance cur:\\$

Even more escaping

When hledger runs an addon executable (eg you type hledger ui, hledger runs hledger-ui), it de-escapes command-line options and arguments once, so you might need to triple-escape. Eg in bash, running the ui command and matching the dollar sign, it's:

hledger ui cur:'\\$'


hledger ui cur:\\\\$

If you asked why four slashes above, this may help:

unescaped: $
escaped: \$
double-escaped: \\$
triple-escaped: \\\\$

(The number of backslashes in fish shell is left as an exercise for the reader.)

You can always avoid the extra escaping for addons by running the addon directly:

hledger-ui cur:\\$

Less escaping

Inside an argument file, or in the search field of hledger-ui or hledger-web, or at a GHCI prompt, you need one less level of escaping than at the command line. And backslashes may work better than quotes. Eg:

ghci> :main balance cur:\$

Command line tips

If in doubt, keep things simple:

  • write options after the command (hledger CMD -OPTIONS ARGS)

  • run add-on executables directly (hledger-ui -OPTIONS ARGS)

  • enclose problematic args in single quotes

  • if needed, also add a backslash to escape regexp metacharacters

To find out exactly how a command line is being parsed, add --debug=2 to troubleshoot.

Unicode characters

hledger is expected to handle non-ascii characters correctly:

  • they should be parsed correctly in input files and on the command line, by all hledger tools (add, iadd, hledger-web's search/add/edit forms, etc.)

  • they should be displayed correctly by all hledger tools, and on-screen alignment should be preserved.

This requires a well-configured environment. Here are some tips:

  • A system locale must be configured, and it must be one that can decode the characters being used. In bash, you can set a locale like this: export LANG=en_US.UTF-8. There are some more details in Troubleshooting. This step is essential - without it, hledger will quit on encountering a non-ascii character (as with all GHC-compiled programs).

  • your terminal software (eg Terminal.app, iTerm, CMD.exe, xterm..) must support unicode

  • the terminal must be using a font which includes the required unicode glyphs

  • the terminal should be configured to display wide characters as double width (for report alignment)

  • on Windows, for best results you should run hledger in the same kind of environment in which it was built. Eg hledger built in the standard CMD.EXE environment (like the binaries on our download page) might show display problems when run in a cygwin or msys terminal, and vice versa. (See eg #961).

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:

$ setenv LEDGER_FILE ~/finance/2016.journal
$ hledger stats

or with the -f/--file option:

$ hledger -f /some/file stats

The file name - (hyphen) means standard input:

$ cat some.journal | hledger -f-

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:

$ hledger -f csv:/some/csv-file.dat stats
$ echo 'i 2009/13/1 08:00:00' | hledger print -ftimeclock:-

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

  • directives in one file will not affect the other files

  • balance assertions will not see any account balances from previous files

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).


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.

Some notes:

  • As in Ledger, end dates are exclusive, so you need to write the date after the last day you want to include.

  • As noted in reporting options: among start/end dates specified with options, the last (i.e. right-most) option takes precedence.

  • The effective report start and end dates are the intersection of the start/end dates from options and that from date: queries. That is, date:2019-01 date:2019 -p'2000 to 2030' yields January 2019, the smallest common time span.


-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

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.

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"

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.


-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].


-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).


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

Pivoted balance report, using member: tag values instead:

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

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


-B: Cost

The -B/--cost flag converts amounts to their cost (or selling price) at transaction time, if they have a transaction price specified. This flag is equivalent to --value=cost, described below.

-V: Market value

The -V/--market flag converts reported amounts to their market value in a default valuation commodity, using the market prices in effect on a default valuation date. For single period reports, the valuation date is today (equivalent to --value=now); for multiperiod reports, it is the last day of each subperiod (equivalent to --value=end).

The default valuation commodity is the one referenced in the latest applicable market price dated on or before the valuation date. If most of your P declarations lead to a single home currency, this will usually be what you want. (To specify the commodity, see -X below.)

Note that in hledger, market prices are always declared explicitly with P directives; we do not infer them from transaction prices as Ledger does.

Here's a quick example of -V:

; one euro is worth this many dollars from nov 1
P 2016/11/01 € $1.10

; purchase some euros on nov 3
    assets:euros        €100

; 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

-X: Market value in specified commodity

The -X/--exchange option is like -V, except it specifies the target commodity you would like to convert to. It is equivalent to --value=now,COMM or --value=end,COMM.

--value: Flexible valuation

(experimental, added 201905)

-B, -V and -X are special cases of the more general --value option:

 --value=TYPE[,COMM]  TYPE is cost, end, now or YYYY-MM-DD.
                      COMM is an optional commodity symbol.
                      Shows amounts converted to:
                      - cost commodity using transaction prices (then optionally to COMM using market prices at period end(s))
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using market prices at period end(s)
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using current market prices
                      - default valuation commodity (or COMM) using market prices at some date

The TYPE part basically selects either "cost", or "market value" plus a valuation date:

--value=cost : Convert amounts to cost, using the prices recorded in transactions.

--value=end : Convert amounts to their value in a default valuation commodity, using market prices on the last day of the report period (or if unspecified, the journal's end date); or in multiperiod reports, market prices on the last day of each subperiod.

--value=now : Convert amounts to their value in default valuation commodity using current market prices (as of when report is generated).

--value=YYYY-MM-DD : Convert amounts to their value in default valuation commodity using market prices on this date.

The default valuation commodity is the commodity mentioned in the most recent applicable market price declaration. When all your price declarations lead to a single home currency, this will usually do what you want.

To select a different valuation commodity, add the optional ,COMM part: a comma, then the target commodity's symbol. Eg: --value=now,EUR. hledger will do its best to convert amounts to this commodity, using:

  • declared prices (from source commodity to valuation commodity)

  • reverse prices (declared prices from valuation to source commodity, inverted)

  • indirect prices (prices calculated from the shortest chain of declared or reverse prices from source to valuation commodity)

in that order.

Here are some examples showing the effect of --value as seen with print:

P 2000-01-01 A  1 B
P 2000-02-01 A  2 B
P 2000-03-01 A  3 B
P 2000-04-01 A  4 B

  (a)      1 A @ 5 B

  (a)      1 A @ 6 B

  (a)      1 A @ 7 B

Show the cost of each posting:

$ hledger -f- print --value=cost
    (a)             5 B

    (a)             6 B

    (a)             7 B

Show the value as of the last day of the report period (2000-02-29):

$ hledger -f- print --value=end date:2000/01-2000/03
    (a)             2 B

    (a)             2 B

With no report period specified, that shows the value as of the last day of the journal (2000-03-01):

$ hledger -f- print --value=end
    (a)             3 B

    (a)             3 B

    (a)             3 B

Show the current value (the 2000-04-01 price is still in effect today):

$ hledger -f- print --value=now
    (a)             4 B

    (a)             4 B

    (a)             4 B

Show the value on 2000/01/15:

$ hledger -f- print --value=2000-01-15
    (a)             1 B

    (a)             1 B

    (a)             1 B

You may need to explicitly set a commodity's display style, when reverse prices are used. Eg this output might be surprising:

P 2000-01-01 A 2B

  a  1B

$ hledger print -x -X A
    a               0
    b               0

Explanation: because there's no amount or commodity directive specifying a display style for A, 0.5A gets the default style, which shows no decimal digits. Because the displayed amount looks like zero, the commodity symbol and minus sign are not displayed either. Adding a commodity directive sets a more useful display style for A:

P 2000-01-01 A 2B
commodity 0.00A

  a  1B

$ hledger print -X A
    a           0.50A
    b          -0.50A

Effect of --value on reports

Here is a reference for how --value currently affects each part of hledger's reports. It's work in progress, but may be useful for troubleshooting or reporting bugs. See also the definitions and notes below. If you find problems, please report them, ideally with a reproducible example. Related: #329, #1083.

Report type -B, --value=cost -V, -X --value=end --value=DATE, --value=now
posting amounts cost value at report end or today value at report or journal end value at DATE/today
balance assertions / assignments unchanged unchanged unchanged unchanged

starting balance (with -H) cost value at day before report or journal start value at day before report or journal start value at DATE/today
posting amounts (no report interval) cost value at report end or today value at report or journal end value at DATE/today
summary posting amounts (with report interval) summarised cost value at period ends value at period ends value at DATE/today
running total/average sum/average of displayed values sum/average of displayed values sum/average of displayed values sum/average of displayed values

balance (bs, bse, cf, is..)
balances (no report interval) sums of costs value at report end or today of sums of postings value at report or journal end of sums of postings value at DATE/today of sums of postings
balances (with report interval) sums of costs value at period ends of sums of postings value at period ends of sums of postings value at DATE/today of sums of postings
starting balances (with report interval and -H) sums of costs of postings before report start sums of postings before report start sums of postings before report start sums of postings before report start
budget amounts with --budget like balances like balances like balances like balances
grand total (no report interval) sum of displayed values sum of displayed values sum of displayed values sum of displayed values
row totals/averages (with report interval) sums/averages of displayed values sums/averages of displayed values sums/averages of displayed values sums/averages of displayed values
column totals sums of displayed values sums of displayed values sums of displayed values sums of displayed values
grand total/average sum/average of column totals sum/average of column totals sum/average of column totals sum/average of column totals

Additional notes

cost : calculated using price(s) recorded in the transaction(s).

value : market value using available market price declarations, or the unchanged amount if no conversion rate can be found.

report start : the first day of the report period specified with -b or -p or date:, otherwise today.

report or journal start : the first day of the report period specified with -b or -p or date:, otherwise the earliest transaction date in the journal, otherwise today.

report end : the last day of the report period specified with -e or -p or date:, otherwise today.

report or journal end : the last day of the report period specified with -e or -p or date:, otherwise the latest transaction date in the journal, otherwise today.

report interval : a flag (-D/-W/-M/-Q/-Y) or period expression that activates the report's multi-period mode (whether showing one or many subperiods).

Combining -B, -V, -X, --value

The rightmost of these flags wins.

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:

  • query terms, on the command line and in the hledger-web search form: REGEX, desc:REGEX, cur:REGEX, tag:...=REGEX

  • CSV rules conditional blocks: if REGEX ...

  • account alias directives and options: alias /REGEX/ = REPLACEMENT, --alias /REGEX/=REPLACEMENT

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

Some things to note:

  • In the alias directive and --alias option, regular expressions must be enclosed in forward slashes (/REGEX/). Elsewhere in hledger, these are not required.

  • In queries, to match a regular expression metacharacter like $ as a literal character, prepend a backslash. Eg to search for amounts with the dollar sign in hledger-web, write cur:\$.

  • On the command line, some metacharacters like $ have a special meaning to the shell and so must be escaped at least once more. See Special characters.


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):

  • any of the description terms AND

  • any of the account terms AND

  • any of the status terms AND

  • all the other terms.

The print command instead shows transactions which:

  • match any of the description terms AND

  • have any postings matching any of the positive account terms AND

  • have no postings matching any of the negative account terms AND

  • match all the other terms.

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).


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, a
Show account names.

This command lists account names, either declared with account directives (--declared), posted to (--used), or both (the 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 or -N.


$ hledger accounts


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 *******
2008-10-01 **


Prompt for transactions and add them to the journal.

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.


  • add tries to provide useful defaults, using the most similar (by description) recent transaction (filtered by the query, if any) as a template.

  • You can also set the initial defaults with command line arguments.

  • Readline-style edit keys can be used during data entry.

  • The tab key will auto-complete whenever possible - accounts, descriptions, dates (yesterday, today, tomorrow). If the input area is empty, it will insert the default value.

  • If the journal defines a default commodity, it will be added to any bare numbers entered.

  • A parenthesised transaction code may be entered following a date.

  • Comments and tags may be entered following a description or amount.

  • If you make a mistake, enter < at any prompt to restart the transaction.

  • Input prompts are displayed in a different colour when the terminal supports it.

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]: 
Starting the next transaction (. or ctrl-D/ctrl-C to quit)
Date [2015/05/22]: <CTRL-D> $

On Microsoft Windows, the add command makes sure that no part of the file path ends with a period, as it can cause data loss on that platform (cf #1056).


balance, bal, b
Show accounts and their balances.

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

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. (Note: -S has a problem in hledger 1.11-1.18).

"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

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 pads with spaces to at least this width (optional)

  • MAX truncates at this width (optional)

  • FIELDNAME must be enclosed in parentheses, and can be one of:

    • depth_spacer - a number of spaces equal to the account's depth, or if MIN is specified, MIN * depth spaces.

    • account - the account's name

    • total - the account's balance/posted total, right justified

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

  • %_ - render on multiple lines, bottom-aligned (the default)

  • %^ - render on multiple lines, top-aligned

  • %, - render on one line, comma-separated

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:

  • %(total) - the account's total

  • %-20.20(account) - the account's name, left justified, padded to 20 characters and clipped at 20 characters

  • %,%-50(account)  %25(total) - account name padded to 50 characters, total padded to 20 characters, with multiple commodities rendered on one line

  • %20(total)  %2(depth_spacer)%-(account) - the default format for the single-column balance report

Colour support

The balance command shows negative amounts in red, if:

  • the TERM environment variable is not set to dumb

  • the output is not being redirected or piped anywhere

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: <!-- multicolumn income statement:

    $ hledger balance ^income ^expense -p 'monthly this year' --depth 3

    or cashflow statement:

    $ hledger balance ^assets ^liabilities 'not:(receivable|payable)' -p 'weekly this month' -->

    $ 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 

Note that --cumulative or --historical/-H disable --row-total/-T, since summing end balances generally does not make sense.

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


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

;; Two months worth of expenses
  income  $1950
  expenses:food    $396
  expenses:bus     $49
  expenses:movies  $30
  expenses:supplies  $20

  income  $2100
  expenses:food    $412
  expenses:bus     $53
  expenses:gifts   $100

You can now see a monthly budget report:

$ hledger balance -M --budget
Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:

                      ||                      Nov                       Dec 
 assets               || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank          || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 expenses             ||   $495 [ 103% of   $480]    $565 [ 118% of   $480] 
 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]       0 [              0] 

Note this is different from a normal balance report in several ways:

  • Only accounts with budget goals during the report period are shown, by default.

  • In each column, in square brackets after the actual amount, budgeted amounts are shown, along with the percentage of budget used.

  • All parent accounts are always shown, even in flat mode. Eg assets, assets:bank, and expenses above.

  • Amounts always include all subaccounts, budgeted or unbudgeted, even in flat mode.

This means that the numbers displayed will not always add up! Eg above, the expenses actual amount includes the gifts and supplies transactions, but the expenses:gifts and expenses:supplies accounts are not shown, as they have no budget amounts declared.

This can be confusing. When you need to make things clearer, use the -E/--empty flag, which will reveal all accounts including unbudgeted ones, giving the full picture. Eg:

$ hledger balance -M --budget --empty
Budget performance in 2017/11/01-2017/12/31:

                      ||                      Nov                       Dec 
 assets               || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank          || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-2665 [ 107% of $-2480] 
 expenses             ||   $495 [ 103% of   $480]    $565 [ 118% of   $480] 
 expenses:bus         ||    $49 [  98% of    $50]     $53 [ 106% of    $50] 
 expenses:food        ||   $396 [  99% of   $400]    $412 [ 103% of   $400] 
 expenses:gifts       ||      0                      $100                   
 expenses:movies      ||    $30 [ 100% of    $30]       0 [   0% of    $30] 
 expenses:supplies    ||    $20                         0                   
 income               ||  $1950 [  98% of  $2000]   $2100 [ 105% of  $2000] 
                      ||      0 [              0]       0 [              0] 

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:

                      ||                      Nov                       Dec 
 assets               || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [ 103% of $-4960] 
 assets:bank          || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [ 103% of $-4960] 
 assets:bank:checking || $-2445 [  99% of $-2480]  $-5110 [ 103% of $-4960] 
 expenses             ||   $495 [ 103% of   $480]   $1060 [ 110% of   $960] 
 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]       0 [              0] 

For more examples, see Budgeting and Forecasting.

Nested budgets

You can add budgets to any account in your account hierarchy. If you have budgets on both parent account and some of its children, then budget(s) of the child account(s) would be added to the budget of their parent, much like account balances behave.

In the most simple case this means that once you add a budget to any account, all its parents would have budget as well.

To illustrate this, consider the following budget:

~ monthly from 2019/01
    expenses:personal             $1,000.00
    expenses:personal:electronics    $100.00

With this, monthly budget for electronics is defined to be $100 and budget for personal expenses is an additional $1000, which implicity means that budget for both expenses:personal and expenses is $1100.

Transactions in expenses:personal:electronics will be counted both towards its $100 budget and $1100 of expenses:personal , and transactions in any other subaccount of expenses:personal would be counted towards only towards the budget of expenses:personal.

For example, let's consider these transactions:

~ monthly from 2019/01
    expenses:personal             $1,000.00
    expenses:personal:electronics    $100.00

2019/01/01 Google home hub
    expenses:personal:electronics          $90.00
    liabilities                           $-90.00

2019/01/02 Phone screen protector
    expenses:personal:electronics:upgrades          $10.00

2019/01/02 Weekly train ticket
    expenses:personal:train tickets       $153.00

2019/01/03 Flowers
    expenses:personal          $30.00

As you can see, we have transactions in expenses:personal:electronics:upgrades and expenses:personal:train tickets, and since both of these accounts are without explicitly defined budget, these transactions would be counted towards budgets of expenses:personal:electronics and expenses:personal accordingly:

$ hledger balance --budget -M
Budget performance in 2019/01:

                               ||                           Jan 
 expenses                      ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal             ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal:electronics ||  $100.00 [ 100% of   $100.00] 
 liabilities                   || $-283.00 [  26% of $-1100.00] 
                               ||        0 [                 0] 

And with --empty, we can get a better picture of budget allocation and consumption:

$ hledger balance --budget -M --empty
Budget performance in 2019/01:

                                        ||                           Jan 
 expenses                               ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal                      ||  $283.00 [  26% of  $1100.00] 
 expenses:personal:electronics          ||  $100.00 [ 100% of   $100.00] 
 expenses:personal:electronics:upgrades ||   $10.00                      
 expenses:personal:train tickets        ||  $153.00                      
 liabilities                            || $-283.00 [  26% of $-1100.00] 
                                        ||        0 [                 0] 

Output format

The balance command supports output destination and output format selection.


balancesheet, bs
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).


$ hledger balancesheet
Balance Sheet

                 $-1  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-2    cash

                  $1  liabilities:debts


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 (and -T/--row-total, since summing end balances generally does not make sense).

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.


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


$ hledger balancesheetequity
Balance Sheet With Equity

                 $-2  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-3    cash

                  $1  liabilities:debts

          $1  equity:owner



cashflow, cf
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).


$ hledger cashflow
Cashflow Statement

Cash flows:
                 $-1  assets
                  $1    bank:saving
                 $-2    cash


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 that transactions are sorted by increasing date. With --date2, checks secondary dates instead. With --strict, dates must also be unique. With a query, only matched transactions' dates are checked. Reads the default journal file, or another specified with -f.


Reports account names having the same leaf but different prefixes. In other words, two or more leaves that are categorized differently. Reads the default journal file, or another specified as an argument.

An example: http://stefanorodighiero.net/software/hledger-dupes.html


close, equity
Prints a "closing balances" transaction and an "opening balances" transaction that bring account balances to and from zero, respectively. Useful for bringing asset/liability balances forward into a new journal file, or for closing out revenues/expenses to retained earnings at the end of a period.

The closing transaction transfers balances to "equity:closing balances". The opening transaction transfers balances from "equity:opening balances". You can choose to print just one of the transactions by using the --opening or --closing flag.

If you split your journal files by time (eg yearly), you will typically run this command at the end of the year, and save the closing transaction as last entry of the old file, and the opening transaction as the first entry of the new file. This makes the files self contained, so that correct balances are reported no matter which of them are loaded. Ie, if you load just one file, the balances are initialised correctly; or if you load several files, the redundant closing/opening transactions cancel each other out. (They will show up in print or register reports; you can exclude them with a query like not:desc:'(opening|closing) balances'.)

If you're running a business, you might also use this command to "close the books" at the end of an accounting period, transferring income statement account balances to retained earnings. (You may want to change the equity account name to something like "equity:retained earnings".)

By default, the closing transaction is dated yesterday, the balances are calculated as of end of yesterday, and the opening transaction is dated today. To close on some other date, use: hledger close -e OPENINGDATE. Eg, to close/open on the 2018/2019 boundary, use -e 2019. You can also use -p or date:PERIOD (any starting date is ignored).

Both transactions will include balance assertions for the closed/reopened accounts. You probably shouldn't use status or realness filters (like -C or -R or status:) with this command, or the generated balance assertions will depend on these flags. Likewise, if you run this command with --auto, the balance assertions will probably always require --auto.

When account balances have cost information (transaction prices), the closing/opening transactions will preserve it, so that eg balance -B reports will not be affected.


Carrying asset/liability balances into a new file for 2019, all from command line:

Warning: we use >> here to append; be careful not to type a single > which would wipe your journal!

$ hledger close -f 2018.journal -e 2019 assets liabilities --opening >>2019.journal
$ hledger close -f 2018.journal -e 2019 assets liabilities --closing >>2018.journal


$ hledger bs -f 2019.journal                   # one file - balances are correct
$ hledger bs -f 2018.journal -f 2019.journal   # two files - balances still correct
$ hledger bs -f 2018.journal not:desc:closing  # to see year-end balances, must exclude closing txn

Transactions spanning the closing date can complicate matters, breaking balance assertions:

2018/12/30 a purchase made in 2018, clearing the following year
    expenses:food          5
    assets:bank:checking  -5  ; [2019/1/2]

Here's one way to resolve that:

; in 2018.journal:
2018/12/30 a purchase made in 2018, clearing the following year
    expenses:food          5

; in 2019.journal:
2019/1/2 clearance of last year's pending transactions
    liabilities:pending    5 = 0


List all commodity/currency symbols used or declared in the journal.


descriptions Show descriptions.

This command lists all descriptions that appear in transactions.


$ hledger descriptions
Store Name
Gas Station | Petrol
Person A


Compares a particular account's transactions in two input files. It shows any transactions to this account which are in one file but not in the other.

More precisely, for each posting affecting this account in either file, it looks for a corresponding posting in the other file which posts the same amount to the same account (ignoring date, description, etc.) Since postings not transactions are compared, this also works when multiple bank transactions have been combined into a single journal entry.

This is useful eg if you have downloaded an account's transactions from your bank (eg as CSV data). When hledger and your bank disagree about the account balance, you can compare the bank data with your journal to find out the cause.


$ hledger diff -f $LEDGER_FILE -f bank.csv assets:bank:giro 
These transactions are in the first file only:

2014/01/01 Opening Balances
    assets:bank:giro              EUR ...
    equity:opening balances       EUR -...

These transactions are in the second file only:


List all files included in the journal. With a REGEX argument, only file names matching the regular expression (case sensitive) are shown.


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 journal csv timeclock timedot
$ hledger help h --man

hledger(1)                    hledger User Manuals                    hledger(1)

       hledger - a command-line accounting tool

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

       hledger  is  a  cross-platform  program  for tracking money, time, or any


Read new transactions added to each FILE since last run, and add them to the main journal file. Or with --dry-run, just print the transactions that would be added.

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

Importing balance assignments

Entries added by import will have their posting amounts made explicit (like hledger print -x). This means that any balance assignments in imported files must be evaluated; but, imported files don't get to see the main file's account balances. As a result, importing entries with balance assignments (eg from an institution that provides only balances and not posting amounts) will probably generate incorrect posting amounts. To avoid this problem, use print instead of import:

$ hledger print IMPORTFILE [--new] >> $LEDGER_FILE

(If you think import should leave amounts implicit like print does, please test it and send a pull request.)


incomestatement, is
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).

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

                 $-2  income
                 $-1    gifts
                 $-1    salary

                  $2  expenses
                  $1    food
                  $1    supplies


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.


notes Show notes.

This command lists all notes that appear in transactions.


$ hledger notes


payees Show payee names.

This command lists all payee names that appear in transactions.


$ hledger payees
Store Name
Gas Station
Person A


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, txns, p
Show transaction journal entries, sorted by date.

The print command displays full journal entries (transactions) from the journal file in date order, tidily formatted. With --date2, transactions are sorted by secondary date instead.

print's output is always a valid hledger journal.
It preserves all transaction information, but it does not preserve directives or inter-transaction comments

$ 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

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
"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","","",""
  • There is one CSV record per posting, with the parent transaction's fields repeated.

  • The "txnidx" (transaction index) field shows which postings belong to the same transaction. (This number might change if transactions are reordered within the file, files are parsed/included in a different order, etc.)

  • The amount is separated into "commodity" (the symbol) and "amount" (numeric quantity) fields.

  • The numeric amount is repeated in either the "credit" or "debit" column, for convenience. (Those names are not accurate in the accounting sense; it just puts negative amounts under credit and zero or greater amounts under debit.)


register, reg, r
Show postings and their running total.

The register command displays postings in date order, 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

With --date2, it shows and sorts by secondary date instead.

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.

The --invert flag negates all amounts. For example, it can be used on an income account where amounts are normally displayed as negative numbers. It's also useful to show postings on the checking account together with the related account:

$ hledger register --related --invert assets:checking

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 (won't display correctly in --help):

<--------------------------------- 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, & description width 40

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.


Print the one posting whose transaction description is closest to DESC, in the style of the register command. If there are multiple equally good matches, it shows the most recent. Query options (options, not arguments) can be used to restrict the search space. Helps ledger-autosync detect already-seen transactions when importing.


Print all transactions, rewriting the postings of matched transactions. For now the only rewrite available is adding new postings, like print --auto.

This is a start at a generic rewriter of transaction entries. It reads the default journal and prints the transactions, like print, but adds one or more specified postings to any transactions matching QUERY. The posting amounts can be fixed, or a multiplier of the existing transaction's first posting amount.


$ hledger-rewrite.hs ^income --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33  ; income tax' --add-posting '(reserve:gifts)  $100'
$ hledger-rewrite.hs expenses:gifts --add-posting '(reserve:gifts)  *-1"'
$ hledger-rewrite.hs -f rewrites.hledger

rewrites.hledger may consist of entries like:

= ^income amt:<0 date:2017
  (liabilities:tax)  *0.33  ; tax on income
  (reserve:grocery)  *0.25  ; reserve 25% for grocery
  (reserve:)  *0.25  ; reserve 25% for grocery

Note the single quotes to protect the dollar sign from bash, and the two spaces between account and amount.


$ hledger rewrite -- [QUERY]        --add-posting "ACCT  AMTEXPR" ...
$ hledger rewrite -- ^income        --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33'
$ hledger rewrite -- expenses:gifts --add-posting '(budget:gifts)  *-1"'
$ hledger rewrite -- ^income        --add-posting '(budget:foreign currency)  *0.25 JPY; diversify'

Argument for --add-posting option is a usual posting of transaction with an exception for amount specification. More precisely, you can use '*' (star symbol) before the amount to indicate that that this is a factor for an amount of original matched posting. If the amount includes a commodity name, the new posting amount will be in the new commodity; otherwise, it will be in the matched posting amount's commodity.

Re-write rules in a file

During the run this tool will execute so called "Automated Transactions" found in any journal it process. I.e instead of specifying this operations in command line you can put them in a journal file.

$ rewrite-rules.journal

Make contents look like this:

= ^income
    (liabilities:tax)  *.33

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

Note that '=' (equality symbol) that is used instead of date in transactions you usually write. It indicates the query by which you want to match the posting to add new ones.

$ hledger rewrite -- -f input.journal -f rewrite-rules.journal > rewritten-tidy-output.journal

This is something similar to the commands pipeline:

$ hledger rewrite -- -f input.journal '^income' --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33' \
  | hledger rewrite -- -f - expenses:gifts      --add-posting 'budget:gifts  *-1'       \
                                                --add-posting 'assets:budget  *1'       \
  > rewritten-tidy-output.journal

It is important to understand that relative order of such entries in journal is important. You can re-use result of previously added postings.

Diff output format

To use this tool for batch modification of your journal files you may find useful output in form of unified diff.

$ hledger rewrite -- --diff -f examples/sample.journal '^income' --add-posting '(liabilities:tax)  *.33'

Output might look like:

--- /tmp/examples/sample.journal
+++ /tmp/examples/sample.journal
@@ -18,3 +18,4 @@
 2008/01/01 income
-    assets:bank:checking  $1
+    assets:bank:checking            $1
+    (liabilities:tax)                0
@@ -22,3 +23,4 @@
 2008/06/01 gift
-    assets:bank:checking  $1
+    assets:bank:checking            $1
+    (liabilities:tax)                0

If you'll pass this through patch tool you'll get transactions containing the posting that matches your query be updated. Note that multiple files might be update according to list of input files specified via --file options and include directives inside of these files.

Be careful. Whole transaction being re-formatted in a style of output from hledger print.

See also:


rewrite vs. print --auto

This command predates print --auto, and currently does much the same thing, but with these differences:

  • with multiple files, rewrite lets rules in any file affect all other files. print --auto uses standard directive scoping; rules affect only child files.

  • rewrite's query limits which transactions can be rewritten; all are printed. print --auto's query limits which transactions are printed.

  • rewrite applies rules specified on command line or in the journal. print --auto applies rules specified in the journal.


Shows the time-weighted (TWR) and money-weighted (IRR) rate of return on your investments.

This command assumes that you have account(s) that hold nothing but your investments and whenever you record current appraisal/valuation of these investments you offset unrealized profit and loss into account(s) that, again, hold nothing but unrealized profit and loss.

Any transactions affecting balance of investment account(s) and not originating from unrealized profit and loss account(s) are assumed to be your investments or withdrawals.

At a minimum, you need to supply a query (which could be just an account name) to select your investments with --inv, and another query to identify your profit and loss transactions with --pnl.

It will compute and display the internalized rate of return (IRR) and time-weighted rate of return (TWR) for your investments for the time period requested. Both rates of return are annualized before display, regardless of the length of reporting interval.


Show some journal statistics.

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.


$ 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 ($)
Market prices            : 12 ($)

This command also supports output destination and output format selection.


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 QUERY arguments, only transactions matching the query are considered. With --values flag, the tags' unique values are listed instead.


Run built-in unit tests.

This command runs the unit tests built in to hledger-lib and hledger, printing test names and results on stdout. If any test fails, 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!


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,

  • hledger -h web shows hledger's help, while hledger web -h shows hledger-web's help.

  • Flags specific to the add-on must have a preceding -- to hide them from hledger. So hledger web --serve --port 9000 will be rejected; you must use hledger web -- --serve --port 9000.

  • You can always run add-ons directly if preferred: hledger-web --serve --port 9000.

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.


hledger-ui provides an efficient terminal interface.


hledger-web provides a simple web interface.

Third party add-ons

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


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


hledger-iadd is a more interactive, terminal UI replacement for the add command.


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


hledger-irr calculates the internal rate of return of an investment account, but it's superseded now by the built-in roi command.

Experimental add-ons

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


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.


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


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


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).


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).


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.

On Windows, non-ascii characters may not display correctly when running a hledger built in CMD in MSYS/CYGWIN, or vice-versa.

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.


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
en_US.utf8                             # <- a UTF8-aware locale is available
$ 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
$ 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).