Checking for errors

hledger can check your data in various ways.

Built in checks

In hledger 1.21+, see strict mode and the check command.

Old way to check accounts

Here's another way to check for undeclared accounts, that works with older hledger versions, showing some diff tricks:

$ diff -U0 --label "Unused Accounts" --label "Undeclared Accounts" <(hledger accounts --declared) <(hledger accounts --used)

Compare report output

Save the output of a report, and later use diff to compare the output of the same report, revealing any changes.

$ hledger COMMAND > report.txt
$ hledger COMMAND > report2.txt
$ diff report.txt report2.txt

Or, periodically commit a report's output into your version control system, then use the VCS to detect any changes since the last commit.

$ hledger COMMAND > report.txt; git add report.txt; git commit -m 'report' report.txt
$ hledger COMMAND > report.txt; git diff -- report.txt

Sometimes new data can cause noisy diffs, especially in tabular reports. To minimise diffs, here are some things to try:

When comparing [balancesheetequity] diffs, do any of these help:

  • --layout wide,MAXWIDTH, --layout bare, --layout tidy

  • not using tree mode if you're using that

  • not showing multiple periods if you're using that

  • overriding commodity styles with -c, eg limiting precision

  • limiting --depth

  • -MA --summary

  • excluding particular problem accounts/commodities

  • generating one report per commodity with cur: ?

  • generating csv/tsv/json output ?

  • using the balance command instead, and eg --transpose, or a single --period and --format

  • using the [a]register command

A pre-commit hook

Version control systems often support a "pre-commit hook", a script which is required to succeed before each commit. Eg:

set -e
hledger check -s

Flycheck mode

If you use Emacs, you can configure flycheck to run your preferred checks when you edit a journal file. This integration is currently quite basic, but it still gives very useful real-time feedback. Setup tips:

  • in Emacs, install the flycheck-hledger package and customise the flycheck-checkers variable, adding hledger to the list
  • customise the flycheck-hledger-strict and flycheck-hledger-checks variables

Todo / maybe

Here are some checks we don't support, but could:

  • accountsactive - for each account used, if there is posting with an open: tag, it must have a corresponding posting with a close: tag, and all other postings must be chronologically between (and if on the same date, textually between) open and close postings. ("Accounts are posted to only within their declared active period.")
  • explicitamounts - all transaction amounts have been recorded explicitly

Preventing postings to closed accounts

Some options (from

  1. Add a balance assertion when the account is closed, and then use hledger check recentassertions ( After a week has passed, new postings to it (without a new, correct, balance assertion) will raise an error.

  2. Add a zero balance assertion in the far future. Eg:

    12000-01-01 * This balance shall remain zero for ten thousand years assets:foo2022 0 ==* 0

  3. (If yearly granularity is ok:) Use a new journal file and new account declarations, and drop the obsolete accounts, each year. Strict mode or hledger check accounts will warn of any new references to the old account.

  4. (If you are comfortable with unix tools:) Make a custom check script, eg grep the output of hledger reg OLDACCT for inappropriate dates.

  5. might help.

  6. support account lifetimes ? #1389 is the place to work on better support for this.