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.\"t

.TH "HLEDGER_JOURNAL" "5" "December 2020" "hledger-lib-1.20.3 " "hledger User Manuals"



.SH NAME
.PP
hledger\[aq]s default file format, representing a General Journal.
.SH DESCRIPTION
.PP
hledger\[aq]s usual data source is a plain text file containing journal
entries in hledger journal format.
This file represents a standard accounting general journal.
I use file names ending in \f[C].journal\f[R], but that\[aq]s not
required.
The journal file contains a number of transaction entries, each
describing a transfer of money (or any commodity) between two or more
named accounts, in a simple format readable by both hledger and humans.
.PP
hledger\[aq]s journal format is a compatible subset, mostly, of
ledger\[aq]s journal format, so hledger can work with compatible ledger
journal files as well.
It\[aq]s safe, and encouraged, to run both hledger and ledger on the
same journal file, eg to validate the results you\[aq]re getting.
.PP
You can use hledger without learning any more about this file; just use
the add or web or import commands to create and update it.
.PP
Many users, though, edit the journal file with a text editor, and track
changes with a version control system such as git.
Editor addons such as ledger-mode or hledger-mode for Emacs, vim-ledger
for Vim, and hledger-vscode for Visual Studio Code, make this easier,
adding colour, formatting, tab completion, and useful commands.
See Editor configuration at hledger.org for the full list.
.PP
Here\[aq]s a description of each part of the file format (and
hledger\[aq]s data model).
These are mostly in the order you\[aq]ll use them, but in some cases
related concepts have been grouped together for easy reference, or
linked before they are introduced, so feel free to skip over anything
that looks unnecessary right now.
.SH TRANSACTIONS
.PP
Transactions are the main unit of information in a journal file.
They represent events, typically a movement of some quantity of
commodities between two or more named accounts.
.PP
Each transaction is recorded as a journal entry, beginning with a simple
date in column 0.
This can be followed by any of the following optional fields, separated
by spaces:
.IP \[bu] 2
a status character (empty, \f[C]!\f[R], or \f[C]*\f[R])
.IP \[bu] 2
a code (any short number or text, enclosed in parentheses)
.IP \[bu] 2
a description (any remaining text until end of line or a semicolon)
.IP \[bu] 2
a comment (any remaining text following a semicolon until end of line,
and any following indented lines beginning with a semicolon)
.IP \[bu] 2
0 or more indented \f[I]posting\f[R] lines, describing what was
transferred and the accounts involved (indented comment lines are also
allowed, but not blank lines or non-indented lines).
.PP
Here\[aq]s a simple journal file containing one transaction:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2008/01/01 income
  assets:bank:checking   $1
  income:salary         $-1
\f[R]
.fi
.SH DATES
.SS Simple dates
.PP
Dates in the journal file use \f[I]simple dates\f[R] format:
\f[C]YYYY-MM-DD\f[R] or \f[C]YYYY/MM/DD\f[R] or \f[C]YYYY.MM.DD\f[R],
with leading zeros optional.
The year may be omitted, in which case it will be inferred from the
context: the current transaction, the default year set with a default
year directive, or the current date when the command is run.
Some examples: \f[C]2010-01-31\f[R], \f[C]2010/01/31\f[R],
\f[C]2010.1.31\f[R], \f[C]1/31\f[R].
.PP
(The UI also accepts simple dates, as well as the more flexible smart
dates documented in the hledger manual.)
.SS Secondary dates
.PP
Real-life transactions sometimes involve more than one date - eg the
date you write a cheque, and the date it clears in your bank.
When you want to model this, for more accurate daily balances, you can
specify individual posting dates.
.PP
Or, you can use the older \f[I]secondary date\f[R] feature (Ledger calls
it auxiliary date or effective date).
Note: we support this for compatibility, but I usually recommend
avoiding this feature; posting dates are almost always clearer and
simpler.
.PP
A secondary date is written after the primary date, following an equals
sign.
If the year is omitted, the primary date\[aq]s year is assumed.
When running reports, the primary (left) date is used by default, but
with the \f[C]--date2\f[R] flag (or \f[C]--aux-date\f[R] or
\f[C]--effective\f[R]), the secondary (right) date will be used instead.
.PP
The meaning of secondary dates is up to you, but it\[aq]s best to follow
a consistent rule.
Eg \[dq]primary = the bank\[aq]s clearing date, secondary = date the
transaction was initiated, if different\[dq], as shown here:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2010/2/23=2/19 movie ticket
  expenses:cinema                   $10
  assets:checking
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger register checking
2010-02-23 movie ticket         assets:checking                $-10         $-10
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger register checking --date2
2010-02-19 movie ticket         assets:checking                $-10         $-10
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Posting dates
.PP
You can give individual postings a different date from their parent
transaction, by adding a posting comment containing a tag (see below)
like \f[C]date:DATE\f[R].
This is probably the best way to control posting dates precisely.
Eg in this example the expense should appear in May reports, and the
deduction from checking should be reported on 6/1 for easy bank
reconciliation:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2015/5/30
    expenses:food     $10  ; food purchased on saturday 5/30
    assets:checking        ; bank cleared it on monday, date:6/1
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger -f t.j register food
2015-05-30                      expenses:food                  $10           $10
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger -f t.j register checking
2015-06-01                      assets:checking               $-10          $-10
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
DATE should be a simple date; if the year is not specified it will use
the year of the transaction\[aq]s date.
You can set the secondary date similarly, with \f[C]date2:DATE2\f[R].
The \f[C]date:\f[R] or \f[C]date2:\f[R] tags must have a valid simple
date value if they are present, eg a \f[C]date:\f[R] tag with no value
is not allowed.
.PP
Ledger\[aq]s earlier, more compact bracketed date syntax is also
supported: \f[C][DATE]\f[R], \f[C][DATE=DATE2]\f[R] or
\f[C][=DATE2]\f[R].
hledger will attempt to parse any square-bracketed sequence of the
\f[C]0123456789/-.=\f[R] characters in this way.
With this syntax, DATE infers its year from the transaction and DATE2
infers its year from DATE.
.SH STATUS
.PP
Transactions, or individual postings within a transaction, can have a
status mark, which is a single character before the transaction
description or posting account name, separated from it by a space,
indicating one of three statuses:
.PP
.TS
tab(@);
l l.
T{
mark \ 
T}@T{
status
T}
_
T{
\ 
T}@T{
unmarked
T}
T{
\f[C]!\f[R]
T}@T{
pending
T}
T{
\f[C]*\f[R]
T}@T{
cleared
T}
.TE
.PP
When reporting, you can filter by status with the
\f[C]-U/--unmarked\f[R], \f[C]-P/--pending\f[R], and
\f[C]-C/--cleared\f[R] flags; or the \f[C]status:\f[R],
\f[C]status:!\f[R], and \f[C]status:*\f[R] queries; or the U, P, C keys
in hledger-ui.
.PP
Note, in Ledger and in older versions of hledger, the \[dq]unmarked\[dq]
state is called \[dq]uncleared\[dq].
As of hledger 1.3 we have renamed it to unmarked for clarity.
.PP
To replicate Ledger and old hledger\[aq]s behaviour of also matching
pending, combine -U and -P.
.PP
Status marks are optional, but can be helpful eg for reconciling with
real-world accounts.
Some editor modes provide highlighting and shortcuts for working with
status.
Eg in Emacs ledger-mode, you can toggle transaction status with C-c C-e,
or posting status with C-c C-c.
.PP
What \[dq]uncleared\[dq], \[dq]pending\[dq], and \[dq]cleared\[dq]
actually mean is up to you.
Here\[aq]s one suggestion:
.PP
.TS
tab(@);
lw(9.7n) lw(60.3n).
T{
status
T}@T{
meaning
T}
_
T{
uncleared
T}@T{
recorded but not yet reconciled; needs review
T}
T{
pending
T}@T{
tentatively reconciled (if needed, eg during a big reconciliation)
T}
T{
cleared
T}@T{
complete, reconciled as far as possible, and considered correct
T}
.TE
.PP
With this scheme, you would use \f[C]-PC\f[R] to see the current balance
at your bank, \f[C]-U\f[R] to see things which will probably hit your
bank soon (like uncashed checks), and no flags to see the most
up-to-date state of your finances.
.SH DESCRIPTION
.PP
A transaction\[aq]s description is the rest of the line following the
date and status mark (or until a comment begins).
Sometimes called the \[dq]narration\[dq] in traditional bookkeeping, it
can be used for whatever you wish, or left blank.
Transaction descriptions can be queried, unlike comments.
.SS Payee and note
.PP
You can optionally include a \f[C]|\f[R] (pipe) character in
descriptions to subdivide the description into separate fields for
payee/payer name on the left (up to the first \f[C]|\f[R]) and an
additional note field on the right (after the first \f[C]|\f[R]).
This may be worthwhile if you need to do more precise querying and
pivoting by payee or by note.
.SH COMMENTS
.PP
Lines in the journal beginning with a semicolon (\f[C];\f[R]) or hash
(\f[C]#\f[R]) or star (\f[C]*\f[R]) are comments, and will be ignored.
(Star comments cause org-mode nodes to be ignored, allowing emacs users
to fold and navigate their journals with org-mode or orgstruct-mode.)
.PP
You can attach comments to a transaction by writing them after the
description and/or indented on the following lines (before the
postings).
Similarly, you can attach comments to an individual posting by writing
them after the amount and/or indented on the following lines.
Transaction and posting comments must begin with a semicolon
(\f[C];\f[R]).
.PP
Some examples:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
# a file comment
; another file comment
* also a file comment, useful in org/orgstruct mode

comment
A multiline file comment, which continues
until a line containing just \[dq]end comment\[dq]
(or end of file).
end comment

2012/5/14 something  ; a transaction comment
    ; the transaction comment, continued
    posting1  1  ; a comment for posting 1
    posting2
    ; a comment for posting 2
    ; another comment line for posting 2
; a file comment (because not indented)
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
You can also comment larger regions of a file using \f[C]comment\f[R]
and \f[C]end comment\f[R] directives.
.SH TAGS
.PP
Tags are a way to add extra labels or labelled data to postings and
transactions, which you can then search or pivot on.
.PP
A simple tag is a word (which may contain hyphens) followed by a full
colon, written inside a transaction or posting comment line:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2017/1/16 bought groceries  ; sometag:
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Tags can have a value, which is the text after the colon, up to the next
comma or end of line, with leading/trailing whitespace removed:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
    expenses:food    $10 ; a-posting-tag: the tag value
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Note this means hledger\[aq]s tag values can not contain commas or
newlines.
Ending at commas means you can write multiple short tags on one line,
comma separated:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
    assets:checking  ; a comment containing tag1:, tag2: some value ...
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Here,
.IP \[bu] 2
\[dq]\f[C]a comment containing\f[R]\[dq] is just comment text, not a tag
.IP \[bu] 2
\[dq]\f[C]tag1\f[R]\[dq] is a tag with no value
.IP \[bu] 2
\[dq]\f[C]tag2\f[R]\[dq] is another tag, whose value is
\[dq]\f[C]some value ...\f[R]\[dq]
.PP
Tags in a transaction comment affect the transaction and all of its
postings, while tags in a posting comment affect only that posting.
For example, the following transaction has three tags (\f[C]A\f[R],
\f[C]TAG2\f[R], \f[C]third-tag\f[R]) and the posting has four (those
plus \f[C]posting-tag\f[R]):
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1/1 a transaction  ; A:, TAG2:
    ; third-tag: a third transaction tag, <- with a value
    (a)  $1  ; posting-tag:
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Tags are like Ledger\[aq]s metadata feature, except hledger\[aq]s tag
values are simple strings.
.SH POSTINGS
.PP
A posting is an addition of some amount to, or removal of some amount
from, an account.
Each posting line begins with at least one space or tab (2 or 4 spaces
is common), followed by:
.IP \[bu] 2
(optional) a status character (empty, \f[C]!\f[R], or \f[C]*\f[R]),
followed by a space
.IP \[bu] 2
(required) an account name (any text, optionally containing \f[B]single
spaces\f[R], until end of line or a double space)
.IP \[bu] 2
(optional) \f[B]two or more spaces\f[R] or tabs followed by an amount.
.PP
Positive amounts are being added to the account, negative amounts are
being removed.
.PP
The amounts within a transaction must always sum up to zero.
As a convenience, one amount may be left blank; it will be inferred so
as to balance the transaction.
.PP
Be sure to note the unusual two-space delimiter between account name and
amount.
This makes it easy to write account names containing spaces.
But if you accidentally leave only one space (or tab) before the amount,
the amount will be considered part of the account name.
.SS Virtual postings
.PP
A posting with a parenthesised account name is called a \f[I]virtual
posting\f[R] or \f[I]unbalanced posting\f[R], which means it is exempt
from the usual rule that a transaction\[aq]s postings must balance add
up to zero.
.PP
This is not part of double entry accounting, so you might choose to
avoid this feature.
Or you can use it sparingly for certain special cases where it can be
convenient.
Eg, you could set opening balances without using a balancing equity
account:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1/1 opening balances
  (assets:checking)   $1000
  (assets:savings)    $2000
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
A posting with a bracketed account name is called a \f[I]balanced
virtual posting\f[R].
The balanced virtual postings in a transaction must add up to zero
(separately from other postings).
Eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1/1 buy food with cash, update budget envelope subaccounts, & something else
  assets:cash                    $-10 ; <- these balance
  expenses:food                    $7 ; <-
  expenses:food                    $3 ; <-
  [assets:checking:budget:food]  $-10    ; <- and these balance
  [assets:checking:available]     $10    ; <-
  (something:else)                 $5       ; <- not required to balance
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Ordinary non-parenthesised, non-bracketed postings are called \f[I]real
postings\f[R].
You can exclude virtual postings from reports with the
\f[C]-R/--real\f[R] flag or \f[C]real:1\f[R] query.
.SH ACCOUNT NAMES
.PP
Account names typically have several parts separated by a full colon,
from which hledger derives a hierarchical chart of accounts.
They can be anything you like, but in finance there are traditionally
five top-level accounts: \f[C]assets\f[R], \f[C]liabilities\f[R],
\f[C]income\f[R], \f[C]expenses\f[R], and \f[C]equity\f[R].
.PP
Account names may contain single spaces, eg:
\f[C]assets:accounts receivable\f[R].
Because of this, they must always be followed by \f[B]two or more
spaces\f[R] (or newline).
.PP
Account names can be aliased.
.SH AMOUNTS
.PP
After the account name, there is usually an amount.
(Important: between account name and amount, there must be \f[B]two or
more spaces\f[R].)
.PP
hledger\[aq]s amount format is flexible, supporting several
international formats.
Here are some examples.
Amounts have a number (the \[dq]quantity\[dq]):
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
\&..and usually a currency or commodity name (the \[dq]commodity\[dq]).
This is a symbol, word, or phrase, to the left or right of the quantity,
with or without a separating space:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$1
4000 AAPL
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
If the commodity name contains spaces, numbers, or punctuation, it must
be enclosed in double quotes:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
3 \[dq]no. 42 green apples\[dq]
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Amounts can be preceded by a minus sign (or a plus sign, though plus is
the default), The sign can be written before or after a left-side
commodity symbol:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
-$1
$-1
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
One or more spaces between the sign and the number are acceptable when
parsing (but they won\[aq]t be displayed in output):
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
+ $1
$-      1
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Scientific E notation is allowed:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1E-6
EUR 1E3
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
A decimal mark can be written as a period or a comma:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1.23
1,23456780000009
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Digit group marks
.PP
In the integer part of the quantity (left of the decimal mark), groups
of digits can optionally be separated by a \[dq]digit group mark\[dq] -
a space, comma, or period (different from the decimal mark):
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
     $1,000,000.00
  EUR 2.000.000,00
INR 9,99,99,999.00
      1 000 000.9455
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Note, a number containing a single group mark and no decimal mark is
ambiguous.
Are these group marks or decimal marks ?
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
1,000
1.000
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
hledger will treat them both as decimal marks by default (cf #793).
If you use digit group marks, to prevent confusion and undetected typos
we recommend you write commodity directives at the top of the file to
explicitly declare the decimal mark (and optionally a digit group mark).
Note, these formats (\[dq]amount styles\[dq]) are specific to each
commodity, so if your data uses multiple formats, hledger can handle it:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
commodity $1,000.00
commodity EUR 1.000,00
commodity INR 9,99,99,999.00
commodity       1 000 000.9455
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
.SS Commodity display style
.PP
For each commodity, hledger chooses a consistent style to use when
displaying amounts.
(Except price amounts, which are always displayed as written).
The display style is chosen as follows:
.IP \[bu] 2
If there is a commodity directive (or default commodity directive) for
the commodity, its style is used (see examples above).
.IP \[bu] 2
Otherwise the style is inferred from the amounts in that commodity seen
in the journal.
.IP \[bu] 2
Or if there are no such amounts in the journal, a default style is used
(like \f[C]$1000.00\f[R]).
.PP
A style is inferred from the journal amounts in a commodity as follows:
.IP \[bu] 2
Use the general style (decimal mark, symbol placement) of the first
amount
.IP \[bu] 2
Use the first-seen digit group style (digit group mark, digit group
sizes), if any
.IP \[bu] 2
Use the maximum number of decimal places of all.
.PP
Transaction price amounts don\[aq]t affect the commodity display style
directly, but occasionally they can do so indirectly (eg when a
posting\[aq]s amount is inferred using a transaction price).
If you find this causing problems, use a commodity directive to fix the
display style.
.PP
In summary, each commodity\[aq]s amounts will be normalised to
.IP \[bu] 2
the style declared by a \f[C]commodity\f[R] directive
.IP \[bu] 2
or, the style of the first posting amount in the journal, with the
first-seen digit group style and the maximum-seen number of decimal
places.
.PP
If reports are showing amounts in a way you don\[aq]t like (eg, with too
many decimal places), use a commodity directive to set your preferred
style.
.SS Rounding
.PP
Amounts are stored internally as decimal numbers with up to 255 decimal
places, and displayed with the number of decimal places specified by the
commodity display style.
Note, hledger uses banker\[aq]s rounding: it rounds to the nearest even
number, eg 0.5 displayed with zero decimal places is \[dq]0\[dq]).
(Guaranteed since hledger 1.17.1; in older versions this could vary if
hledger was built with Decimal < 0.5.1.)
.SH TRANSACTION PRICES
.PP
Within a transaction, you can note an amount\[aq]s price in another
commodity.
This can be used to document the cost (in a purchase) or selling price
(in a sale).
For example, transaction prices are useful to record purchases of a
foreign currency.
Note transaction prices are fixed at the time of the transaction, and do
not change over time.
See also market prices, which represent prevailing exchange rates on a
certain date.
.PP
There are several ways to record a transaction price:
.IP "1." 3
Write the price per unit, as \f[C]\[at] UNITPRICE\f[R] after the amount:
.RS 4
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2009/1/1
  assets:euros     \[Eu]100 \[at] $1.35  ; one hundred euros purchased at $1.35 each
  assets:dollars                 ; balancing amount is -$135.00
\f[R]
.fi
.RE
.IP "2." 3
Write the total price, as \f[C]\[at]\[at] TOTALPRICE\f[R] after the
amount:
.RS 4
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2009/1/1
  assets:euros     \[Eu]100 \[at]\[at] $135  ; one hundred euros purchased at $135 for the lot
  assets:dollars
\f[R]
.fi
.RE
.IP "3." 3
Specify amounts for all postings, using exactly two commodities, and let
hledger infer the price that balances the transaction:
.RS 4
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2009/1/1
  assets:euros     \[Eu]100          ; one hundred euros purchased
  assets:dollars  $-135          ; for $135
\f[R]
.fi
.RE
.IP "4." 3
Like 1, but the \f[C]\[at]\f[R] is parenthesised, i.e.
\f[C](\[at])\f[R]; this is for compatibility with Ledger journals
(Virtual posting costs), and is equivalent to 1 in hledger.
.IP "5." 3
Like 2, but as in 4 the \f[C]\[at]\[at]\f[R] is parenthesised, i.e.
\f[C](\[at]\[at])\f[R]; in hledger, this is equivalent to 2.
.PP
Use the \f[C]-B/--cost\f[R] flag to convert amounts to their transaction
price\[aq]s commodity, if any.
(mnemonic: \[dq]B\[dq] is from \[dq]cost Basis\[dq], as in Ledger).
Eg here is how -B affects the balance report for the example above:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger bal -N --flat
               $-135  assets:dollars
                \[Eu]100  assets:euros
$ hledger bal -N --flat -B
               $-135  assets:dollars
                $135  assets:euros    # <- the euros\[aq] cost
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Note -B is sensitive to the order of postings when a transaction price
is inferred: the inferred price will be in the commodity of the last
amount.
So if example 3\[aq]s postings are reversed, while the transaction is
equivalent, -B shows something different:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2009/1/1
  assets:dollars  $-135              ; 135 dollars sold
  assets:euros     \[Eu]100              ; for 100 euros
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger bal -N --flat -B
               \[Eu]-100  assets:dollars  # <- the dollars\[aq] selling price
                \[Eu]100  assets:euros
\f[R]
.fi
.SH LOT PRICES, LOT DATES
.PP
Ledger allows another kind of price, lot price (four variants:
\f[C]{UNITPRICE}\f[R], \f[C]{{TOTALPRICE}}\f[R],
\f[C]{=FIXEDUNITPRICE}\f[R], \f[C]{{=FIXEDTOTALPRICE}}\f[R]), and/or a
lot date (\f[C][DATE]\f[R]) to be specified.
These are normally used to select a lot when selling investments.
hledger will parse these, for compatibility with Ledger journals, but
currently ignores them.
A transaction price, lot price and/or lot date may appear in any order,
after the posting amount and before the balance assertion if any.
.SH BALANCE ASSERTIONS
.PP
hledger supports Ledger-style balance assertions in journal files.
These look like, for example, \f[C]= EXPECTEDBALANCE\f[R] following a
posting\[aq]s amount.
Eg here we assert the expected dollar balance in accounts a and b after
each posting:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2013/1/1
  a   $1  =$1
  b       =$-1

2013/1/2
  a   $1  =$2
  b  $-1  =$-2
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
After reading a journal file, hledger will check all balance assertions
and report an error if any of them fail.
Balance assertions can protect you from, eg, inadvertently disrupting
reconciled balances while cleaning up old entries.
You can disable them temporarily with the
\f[C]-I/--ignore-assertions\f[R] flag, which can be useful for
troubleshooting or for reading Ledger files.
(Note: this flag currently does not disable balance assignments, below).
.SS Assertions and ordering
.PP
hledger sorts an account\[aq]s postings and assertions first by date and
then (for postings on the same day) by parse order.
Note this is different from Ledger, which sorts assertions only by parse
order.
(Also, Ledger assertions do not see the accumulated effect of repeated
postings to the same account within a transaction.)
.PP
So, hledger balance assertions keep working if you reorder
differently-dated transactions within the journal.
But if you reorder same-dated transactions or postings, assertions might
break and require updating.
This order dependence does bring an advantage: precise control over the
order of postings and assertions within a day, so you can assert
intra-day balances.
.SS Assertions and included files
.PP
With included files, things are a little more complicated.
Including preserves the ordering of postings and assertions.
If you have multiple postings to an account on the same day, split
across different files, and you also want to assert the account\[aq]s
balance on the same day, you\[aq]ll have to put the assertion in the
right file.
.SS Assertions and multiple -f options
.PP
Balance assertions don\[aq]t work well across files specified with
multiple -f options.
Use include or concatenate the files instead.
.SS Assertions and commodities
.PP
The asserted balance must be a simple single-commodity amount, and in
fact the assertion checks only this commodity\[aq]s balance within the
(possibly multi-commodity) account balance.
This is how assertions work in Ledger also.
We could call this a \[dq]partial\[dq] balance assertion.
.PP
To assert the balance of more than one commodity in an account, you can
write multiple postings, each asserting one commodity\[aq]s balance.
.PP
You can make a stronger \[dq]total\[dq] balance assertion by writing a
double equals sign (\f[C]== EXPECTEDBALANCE\f[R]).
This asserts that there are no other unasserted commodities in the
account (or, that their balance is 0).
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2013/1/1
  a   $1
  a    1\[Eu]
  b  $-1
  c   -1\[Eu]

2013/1/2  ; These assertions succeed
  a    0  =  $1
  a    0  =   1\[Eu]
  b    0 == $-1
  c    0 ==  -1\[Eu]

2013/1/3  ; This assertion fails as \[aq]a\[aq] also contains 1\[Eu]
  a    0 ==  $1
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
It\[aq]s not yet possible to make a complete assertion about a balance
that has multiple commodities.
One workaround is to isolate each commodity into its own subaccount:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2013/1/1
  a:usd   $1
  a:euro   1\[Eu]
  b

2013/1/2
  a        0 ==  0
  a:usd    0 == $1
  a:euro   0 ==  1\[Eu]
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Assertions and prices
.PP
Balance assertions ignore transaction prices, and should normally be
written without one:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2019/1/1
  (a)     $1 \[at] \[Eu]1 = $1
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
We do allow prices to be written there, however, and print shows them,
even though they don\[aq]t affect whether the assertion passes or fails.
This is for backward compatibility (hledger\[aq]s close command used to
generate balance assertions with prices), and because balance
\f[I]assignments\f[R] do use them (see below).
.SS Assertions and subaccounts
.PP
The balance assertions above (\f[C]=\f[R] and \f[C]==\f[R]) do not count
the balance from subaccounts; they check the account\[aq]s exclusive
balance only.
You can assert the balance including subaccounts by writing \f[C]=*\f[R]
or \f[C]==*\f[R], eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2019/1/1
  equity:opening balances
  checking:a       5
  checking:b       5
  checking         1  ==* 11
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Assertions and virtual postings
.PP
Balance assertions are checked against all postings, both real and
virtual.
They are not affected by the \f[C]--real/-R\f[R] flag or \f[C]real:\f[R]
query.
.SS Assertions and precision
.PP
Balance assertions compare the exactly calculated amounts, which are not
always what is shown by reports.
Eg a commodity directive may limit the display precision, but this will
not affect balance assertions.
Balance assertion failure messages show exact amounts.
.SH BALANCE ASSIGNMENTS
.PP
Ledger-style balance assignments are also supported.
These are like balance assertions, but with no posting amount on the
left side of the equals sign; instead it is calculated automatically so
as to satisfy the assertion.
This can be a convenience during data entry, eg when setting opening
balances:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; starting a new journal, set asset account balances
2016/1/1 opening balances
  assets:checking            = $409.32
  assets:savings             = $735.24
  assets:cash                 = $42
  equity:opening balances
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
or when adjusting a balance to reality:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; no cash left; update balance, record any untracked spending as a generic expense
2016/1/15
  assets:cash    = $0
  expenses:misc
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
The calculated amount depends on the account\[aq]s balance in the
commodity at that point (which depends on the previously-dated postings
of the commodity to that account since the last balance assertion or
assignment).
Note that using balance assignments makes your journal a little less
explicit; to know the exact amount posted, you have to run hledger or do
the calculations yourself, instead of just reading it.
.SS Balance assignments and prices
.PP
A transaction price in a balance assignment will cause the calculated
amount to have that price attached:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2019/1/1
  (a)             = $1 \[at] \[Eu]2
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger print --explicit
2019-01-01
    (a)         $1 \[at] \[Eu]2 = $1 \[at] \[Eu]2
\f[R]
.fi
.SH DIRECTIVES
.PP
A directive is a line in the journal beginning with a special keyword,
that influences how the journal is processed.
hledger\[aq]s directives are based on a subset of Ledger\[aq]s, but
there are many differences (and also some differences between hledger
versions).
.PP
Directives\[aq] behaviour and interactions can get a little bit complex,
so here is a table summarising the directives and their effects, with
links to more detailed docs.
Note part of this table is hidden when viewed in a web browser - scroll
it sideways to see more.
.PP
.TS
tab(@);
lw(7.8n) lw(8.6n) lw(7.0n) lw(27.8n) lw(18.8n).
T{
directive
T}@T{
end directive
T}@T{
subdirectives
T}@T{
purpose
T}@T{
can affect (as of 2018/06)
T}
_
T{
\f[C]account\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
any text
T}@T{
document account names, declare account types & display order
T}@T{
all entries in all files, before or after
T}
T{
\f[C]alias\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]end aliases\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
rewrite account names
T}@T{
following entries until end of current file or end directive
T}
T{
\f[C]apply account\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]end apply account\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
prepend a common parent to account names
T}@T{
following entries until end of current file or end directive
T}
T{
\f[C]comment\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]end comment\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
ignore part of journal
T}@T{
following entries until end of current file or end directive
T}
T{
\f[C]commodity\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
\f[C]format\f[R]
T}@T{
declare a commodity and its number notation & display style
T}@T{
number notation: following entries in that commodity in all files ;
display style: amounts of that commodity in reports
T}
T{
\f[C]D\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
T}@T{
declare a commodity to be used for commodityless amounts, and its number
notation & display style
T}@T{
default commodity: following commodityless entries until end of current
file; number notation: following entries in that commodity until end of
current file; display style: amounts of that commodity in reports
T}
T{
\f[C]include\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
T}@T{
include entries/directives from another file
T}@T{
what the included directives affect
T}
T{
\f[C]P\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
T}@T{
declare a market price for a commodity
T}@T{
amounts of that commodity in reports, when -V is used
T}
T{
\f[C]Y\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
T}@T{
declare a year for yearless dates
T}@T{
following entries until end of current file
T}
T{
\f[C]=\f[R]
T}@T{
T}@T{
T}@T{
declare an auto posting rule, adding postings to other transactions
T}@T{
all entries in parent/current/child files (but not sibling files, see
#1212)
T}
.TE
.PP
And some definitions:
.PP
.TS
tab(@);
lw(6.0n) lw(64.0n).
T{
subdirective
T}@T{
optional indented directive line immediately following a parent
directive
T}
T{
number notation
T}@T{
how to interpret numbers when parsing journal entries (the identity of
the decimal separator character).
(Currently each commodity can have its own notation, even in the same
file.)
T}
T{
display style
T}@T{
how to display amounts of a commodity in reports (symbol side and
spacing, digit groups, decimal separator, decimal places)
T}
T{
directive scope
T}@T{
which entries and (when there are multiple files) which files are
affected by a directive
T}
.TE
.PP
As you can see, directives vary in which journal entries and files they
affect, and whether they are focussed on input (parsing) or output
(reports).
Some directives have multiple effects.
.SS Directives and multiple files
.PP
If you use multiple \f[C]-f\f[R]/\f[C]--file\f[R] options, or the
\f[C]include\f[R] directive, hledger will process multiple input files.
But note that directives which affect input (see above) typically last
only until the end of the file in which they occur.
.PP
This may seem inconvenient, but it\[aq]s intentional; it makes reports
stable and deterministic, independent of the order of input.
Otherwise you could see different numbers if you happened to write -f
options in a different order, or if you moved includes around while
cleaning up your files.
.PP
It can be surprising though; for example, it means that \f[C]alias\f[R]
directives do not affect parent or sibling files (see below).
.SS Comment blocks
.PP
A line containing just \f[C]comment\f[R] starts a commented region of
the file, and a line containing just \f[C]end comment\f[R] (or the end
of the current file) ends it.
See also comments.
.SS Including other files
.PP
You can pull in the content of additional files by writing an include
directive, like this:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
include FILEPATH
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Only journal files can include, and only journal, timeclock or timedot
files can be included (not CSV files, currently).
.PP
If the file path does not begin with a slash, it is relative to the
current file\[aq]s folder.
.PP
A tilde means home directory, eg: \f[C]include \[ti]/main.journal\f[R].
.PP
The path may contain glob patterns to match multiple files, eg:
\f[C]include *.journal\f[R].
.PP
There is limited support for recursive wildcards: \f[C]**/\f[R] (the
slash is required) matches 0 or more subdirectories.
It\[aq]s not super convenient since you have to avoid include cycles and
including directories, but this can be done, eg:
\f[C]include */**/*.journal\f[R].
.PP
The path may also be prefixed to force a specific file format,
overriding the file extension (as described in hledger.1 -> Input
files): \f[C]include timedot:\[ti]/notes/2020*.md\f[R].
.SS Default year
.PP
You can set a default year to be used for subsequent dates which
don\[aq]t specify a year.
This is a line beginning with \f[C]Y\f[R] followed by the year.
Eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
Y2009  ; set default year to 2009

12/15  ; equivalent to 2009/12/15
  expenses  1
  assets

Y2010  ; change default year to 2010

2009/1/30  ; specifies the year, not affected
  expenses  1
  assets

1/31   ; equivalent to 2010/1/31
  expenses  1
  assets
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Declaring commodities
.PP
The \f[C]commodity\f[R] directive has several functions:
.IP "1." 3
It declares commodities which may be used in the journal.
This is currently not enforced, but can serve as documentation.
.IP "2." 3
It declares what decimal mark character (period or comma) to expect when
parsing input - useful to disambiguate international number formats in
your data.
(Without this, hledger will parse both \f[C]1,000\f[R] and
\f[C]1.000\f[R] as 1).
.IP "3." 3
It declares a commodity\[aq]s display style in output - decimal and
digit group marks, number of decimal places, symbol placement etc.
.PP
You are likely to run into one of the problems solved by commodity
directives, sooner or later, so it\[aq]s a good idea to just always use
them to declare your commodities.
.PP
A commodity directive is just the word \f[C]commodity\f[R] followed by
an amount.
It may be written on a single line, like this:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; commodity EXAMPLEAMOUNT

; display AAAA amounts with the symbol on the right, space-separated,
; using period as decimal point, with four decimal places, and
; separating thousands with comma.
commodity 1,000.0000 AAAA
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
or on multiple lines, using the \[dq]format\[dq] subdirective.
(In this case the commodity symbol appears twice and should be the same
in both places.):
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; commodity SYMBOL
;   format EXAMPLEAMOUNT

; display indian rupees with currency name on the left,
; thousands, lakhs and crores comma-separated,
; period as decimal point, and two decimal places.
commodity INR
  format INR 1,00,00,000.00
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
The quantity of the amount does not matter; only the format is
significant.
The number must include a decimal mark: either a period or a comma,
followed by 0 or more decimal digits.
.PP
Note hledger normally uses banker\[aq]s rounding, so 0.5 displayed with
zero decimal digits is \[dq]0\[dq].
(More at Commodity display style.)
.SS Commodity error checking
.PP
In strict mode, enabled with the \f[C]-s\f[R]/\f[C]--strict\f[R] flag,
hledger will report an error if a commodity symbol is used that has not
been declared by a \f[C]commodity\f[R] directive.
This works similarly to account error checking, see the notes there for
more details.
.SS Default commodity
.PP
The \f[C]D\f[R] directive sets a default commodity, to be used for
amounts without a commodity symbol (ie, plain numbers).
This commodity will be applied to all subsequent commodity-less amounts,
or until the next \f[C]D\f[R] directive.
(Note, this is different from Ledger\[aq]s \f[C]D\f[R].)
.PP
For compatibility/historical reasons, \f[C]D\f[R] also acts like a
\f[C]commodity\f[R] directive, setting the commodity\[aq]s display style
(for output) and decimal mark (for parsing input).
As with \f[C]commodity\f[R], the amount must always be written with a
decimal mark (period or comma).
If both directives are used, \f[C]commodity\f[R]\[aq]s style takes
precedence.
.PP
The syntax is \f[C]D AMOUNT\f[R].
Eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; commodity-less amounts should be treated as dollars
; (and displayed with the dollar sign on the left, thousands separators and two decimal places)
D $1,000.00

1/1
  a     5  ; <- commodity-less amount, parsed as $5 and displayed as $5.00
  b
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Declaring market prices
.PP
The \f[C]P\f[R] directive declares a market price, which is an exchange
rate between two commodities on a certain date.
(In Ledger, they are called \[dq]historical prices\[dq].) These are
often obtained from a stock exchange, cryptocurrency exchange, or the
foreign exchange market.
.PP
Here is the format:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
P DATE COMMODITYA COMMODITYBAMOUNT
\f[R]
.fi
.IP \[bu] 2
DATE is a simple date
.IP \[bu] 2
COMMODITYA is the symbol of the commodity being priced
.IP \[bu] 2
COMMODITYBAMOUNT is an amount (symbol and quantity) in a second
commodity, giving the price in commodity B of one unit of commodity A.
.PP
These two market price directives say that one euro was worth 1.35 US
dollars during 2009, and $1.40 from 2010 onward:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
P 2009/1/1 \[Eu] $1.35
P 2010/1/1 \[Eu] $1.40
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
The \f[C]-V\f[R], \f[C]-X\f[R] and \f[C]--value\f[R] flags use these
market prices to show amount values in another commodity.
See Valuation.
.SS Declaring accounts
.PP
\f[C]account\f[R] directives can be used to declare accounts (ie, the
places that amounts are transferred from and to).
Though not required, these declarations can provide several benefits:
.IP \[bu] 2
They can document your intended chart of accounts, providing a
reference.
.IP \[bu] 2
They can help hledger know your accounts\[aq] types (asset, liability,
equity, revenue, expense), useful for reports like balancesheet and
incomestatement.
.IP \[bu] 2
They control account display order in reports, allowing non-alphabetic
sorting (eg Revenues to appear above Expenses).
.IP \[bu] 2
They can store extra information about accounts (account numbers, notes,
etc.)
.IP \[bu] 2
They help with account name completion in the add command, hledger-iadd,
hledger-web, ledger-mode etc.
.IP \[bu] 2
In strict mode, they restrict which accounts may be posted to by
transactions, which helps detect typos.
.PP
The simplest form is just the word \f[C]account\f[R] followed by a
hledger-style account name, eg this account directive declares the
\f[C]assets:bank:checking\f[R] account:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account assets:bank:checking
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Account error checking
.PP
By default, accounts come into existence when a transaction references
them by name.
This is convenient, but it means hledger can\[aq]t warn you when you
mis-spell an account name in the journal.
Usually you\[aq]ll find the error later, as an extra account in balance
reports, or an incorrect balance when reconciling.
.PP
In strict mode, enabled with the \f[C]-s\f[R]/\f[C]--strict\f[R] flag,
hledger will report an error if any transaction uses an account name
that has not been declared by an account directive.
Some notes:
.IP \[bu] 2
The declaration is case-sensitive; transactions must use the correct
account name capitalisation.
.IP \[bu] 2
The account directive\[aq]s scope is \[dq]whole file and below\[dq] (see
directives).
This means it affects all of the current file, and any files it
includes, but not parent or sibling files.
The position of account directives within the file does not matter,
though it\[aq]s usual to put them at the top.
.IP \[bu] 2
Accounts can only be declared in \f[C]journal\f[R] files (but will
affect included files in other formats).
.IP \[bu] 2
It\[aq]s currently not possible to declare \[dq]all possible
subaccounts\[dq] with a wildcard; every account posted to must be
declared.
.SS Account comments
.PP
Comments, beginning with a semicolon, can be added:
.IP \[bu] 2
on the same line, \f[B]after two or more spaces\f[R] (because ; is
allowed in account names)
.IP \[bu] 2
on the next lines, indented
.PP
An example of both:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account assets:bank:checking  ; same-line comment, note 2+ spaces before ;
  ; next-line comment
  ; another with tag, acctno:12345 (not used yet)
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Same-line comments are not supported by Ledger, or hledger <1.13.
.SS Account subdirectives
.PP
We also allow (and ignore) Ledger-style indented subdirectives, just for
compatibility.:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account assets:bank:checking
  format blah blah  ; <- subdirective, ignored
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Here is the full syntax of account directives:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account ACCTNAME  [ACCTTYPE] [;COMMENT]
  [;COMMENTS]
  [LEDGER-STYLE SUBDIRECTIVES, IGNORED]
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Account types
.PP
hledger recognises five main types of account, corresponding to the
account classes in the accounting equation:
.PP
\f[C]Asset\f[R], \f[C]Liability\f[R], \f[C]Equity\f[R],
\f[C]Revenue\f[R], \f[C]Expense\f[R].
.PP
These account types are important for controlling which accounts appear
in the balancesheet, balancesheetequity, incomestatement reports (and
probably for other things in future).
.PP
Additionally, we recognise the \f[C]Cash\f[R] type, which is also an
\f[C]Asset\f[R], and which causes accounts to appear in the cashflow
report.
(\[dq]Cash\[dq] here means liquid assets, eg bank balances but typically
not investments or receivables.)
.SS Declaring account types
.PP
Generally, to make these reports work you should declare your top-level
accounts and their types, using account directives with \f[C]type:\f[R]
tags.
.PP
The tag\[aq]s value should be one of: \f[C]Asset\f[R],
\f[C]Liability\f[R], \f[C]Equity\f[R], \f[C]Revenue\f[R],
\f[C]Expense\f[R], \f[C]Cash\f[R], \f[C]A\f[R], \f[C]L\f[R],
\f[C]E\f[R], \f[C]R\f[R], \f[C]X\f[R], \f[C]C\f[R] (all case
insensitive).
The type is inherited by all subaccounts except where they override it.
Here\[aq]s a complete example:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account assets       ; type: Asset
account assets:bank  ; type: Cash
account assets:cash  ; type: Cash
account liabilities  ; type: Liability
account equity       ; type: Equity
account revenues     ; type: Revenue
account expenses     ; type: Expense
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Auto-detected account types
.PP
If you happen to use common english top-level account names, you may not
need to declare account types, as they will be detected automatically
using the following rules:
.PP
.TS
tab(@);
l l.
T{
If name matches regular expression:
T}@T{
account type is:
T}
_
T{
\f[C]\[ha]assets?(:|$)\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]Asset\f[R]
T}
T{
\f[C]\[ha](debts?|liabilit(y|ies))(:|$)\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]Liability\f[R]
T}
T{
\f[C]\[ha]equity(:|$)\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]Equity\f[R]
T}
T{
\f[C]\[ha](income|revenue)s?(:|$)\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]Revenue\f[R]
T}
T{
\f[C]\[ha]expenses?(:|$)\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]Expense\f[R]
T}
.TE
.PP
.TS
tab(@);
lw(56.9n) lw(13.1n).
T{
If account type is \f[C]Asset\f[R] and name does not contain regular
expression:
T}@T{
account type is:
T}
_
T{
\f[C](investment|receivable|:A/R|:fixed)\f[R]
T}@T{
\f[C]Cash\f[R]
T}
.TE
.PP
Even so, explicit declarations may be a good idea, for clarity and
predictability.
.SS Interference from auto-detected account types
.PP
If you assign any account type, it\[aq]s a good idea to assign all of
them, to prevent any confusion from mixing declared and auto-detected
types.
Although it\[aq]s unlikely to happen in real life, here\[aq]s an
example: with the following journal, \f[C]balancesheetequity\f[R] shows
\[dq]liabilities\[dq] in both Liabilities and Equity sections.
Declaring another account as \f[C]type:Liability\f[R] would fix it:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account liabilities  ; type:Equity

2020-01-01
  assets        1
  liabilities   1
  equity       -2
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Old account type syntax
.PP
In some hledger journals you might instead see this old syntax (the
letters ALERX, separated from the account name by two or more spaces);
this is deprecated and may be removed soon:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account assets       A
account liabilities  L
account equity       E
account revenues     R
account expenses     X
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Account display order
.PP
Account directives also set the order in which accounts are displayed,
eg in reports, the hledger-ui accounts screen, and the hledger-web
sidebar.
By default accounts are listed in alphabetical order.
But if you have these account directives in the journal:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account assets
account liabilities
account equity
account revenues
account expenses
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
you\[aq]ll see those accounts displayed in declaration order, not
alphabetically:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger accounts -1
assets
liabilities
equity
revenues
expenses
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Undeclared accounts, if any, are displayed last, in alphabetical order.
.PP
Note that sorting is done at each level of the account tree (within each
group of sibling accounts under the same parent).
And currently, this directive:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
account other:zoo
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
would influence the position of \f[C]zoo\f[R] among
\f[C]other\f[R]\[aq]s subaccounts, but not the position of
\f[C]other\f[R] among the top-level accounts.
This means:
.IP \[bu] 2
you will sometimes declare parent accounts (eg \f[C]account other\f[R]
above) that you don\[aq]t intend to post to, just to customize their
display order
.IP \[bu] 2
sibling accounts stay together (you couldn\[aq]t display \f[C]x:y\f[R]
in between \f[C]a:b\f[R] and \f[C]a:c\f[R]).
.SS Rewriting accounts
.PP
You can define account alias rules which rewrite your account names, or
parts of them, before generating reports.
This can be useful for:
.IP \[bu] 2
expanding shorthand account names to their full form, allowing easier
data entry and a less verbose journal
.IP \[bu] 2
adapting old journals to your current chart of accounts
.IP \[bu] 2
experimenting with new account organisations, like a new hierarchy or
combining two accounts into one
.IP \[bu] 2
customising reports
.PP
Account aliases also rewrite account names in account directives.
They do not affect account names being entered via hledger add or
hledger-web.
.PP
See also Rewrite account names.
.SS Basic aliases
.PP
To set an account alias, use the \f[C]alias\f[R] directive in your
journal file.
This affects all subsequent journal entries in the current file or its
included files.
The spaces around the = are optional:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
alias OLD = NEW
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Or, you can use the \f[C]--alias \[aq]OLD=NEW\[aq]\f[R] option on the
command line.
This affects all entries.
It\[aq]s useful for trying out aliases interactively.
.PP
OLD and NEW are case sensitive full account names.
hledger will replace any occurrence of the old account name with the new
one.
Subaccounts are also affected.
Eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
alias checking = assets:bank:wells fargo:checking
; rewrites \[dq]checking\[dq] to \[dq]assets:bank:wells fargo:checking\[dq], or \[dq]checking:a\[dq] to \[dq]assets:bank:wells fargo:checking:a\[dq]
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Regex aliases
.PP
There is also a more powerful variant that uses a regular expression,
indicated by the forward slashes:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
alias /REGEX/ = REPLACEMENT
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
or \f[C]--alias \[aq]/REGEX/=REPLACEMENT\[aq]\f[R].
.PP
REGEX is a case-insensitive regular expression.
Anywhere it matches inside an account name, the matched part will be
replaced by REPLACEMENT.
If REGEX contains parenthesised match groups, these can be referenced by
the usual numeric backreferences in REPLACEMENT.
Eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
alias /\[ha](.+):bank:([\[ha]:]+):(.*)/ = \[rs]1:\[rs]2 \[rs]3
; rewrites \[dq]assets:bank:wells fargo:checking\[dq] to  \[dq]assets:wells fargo checking\[dq]
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Also note that REPLACEMENT continues to the end of line (or on command
line, to end of option argument), so it can contain trailing whitespace.
.SS Combining aliases
.PP
You can define as many aliases as you like, using journal directives
and/or command line options.
.PP
Recursive aliases - where an account name is rewritten by one alias,
then by another alias, and so on - are allowed.
Each alias sees the effect of previously applied aliases.
.PP
In such cases it can be important to understand which aliases will be
applied and in which order.
For (each account name in) each journal entry, we apply:
.IP "1." 3
\f[C]alias\f[R] directives preceding the journal entry, most recently
parsed first (ie, reading upward from the journal entry, bottom to top)
.IP "2." 3
\f[C]--alias\f[R] options, in the order they appeared on the command
line (left to right).
.PP
In other words, for (an account name in) a given journal entry:
.IP \[bu] 2
the nearest alias declaration before/above the entry is applied first
.IP \[bu] 2
the next alias before/above that will be be applied next, and so on
.IP \[bu] 2
aliases defined after/below the entry do not affect it.
.PP
This gives nearby aliases precedence over distant ones, and helps
provide semantic stability - aliases will keep working the same way
independent of which files are being read and in which order.
.PP
In case of trouble, adding \f[C]--debug=6\f[R] to the command line will
show which aliases are being applied when.
.SS Aliases and multiple files
.PP
As explained at Directives and multiple files, \f[C]alias\f[R]
directives do not affect parent or sibling files.
Eg in this command,
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
hledger -f a.aliases -f b.journal
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
account aliases defined in a.aliases will not affect b.journal.
Including the aliases doesn\[aq]t work either:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
include a.aliases

2020-01-01  ; not affected by a.aliases
  foo  1
  bar
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
This means that account aliases should usually be declared at the start
of your top-most file, like this:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
alias foo=Foo
alias bar=Bar

2020-01-01  ; affected by aliases above
  foo  1
  bar

include c.journal  ; also affected
\f[R]
.fi
.SS \f[C]end aliases\f[R]
.PP
You can clear (forget) all currently defined aliases with the
\f[C]end aliases\f[R] directive:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
end aliases
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Default parent account
.PP
You can specify a parent account which will be prepended to all accounts
within a section of the journal.
Use the \f[C]apply account\f[R] and \f[C]end apply account\f[R]
directives like so:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
apply account home

2010/1/1
    food    $10
    cash

end apply account
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
which is equivalent to:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
2010/01/01
    home:food           $10
    home:cash          $-10
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
If \f[C]end apply account\f[R] is omitted, the effect lasts to the end
of the file.
Included files are also affected, eg:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
apply account business
include biz.journal
end apply account
apply account personal
include personal.journal
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Prior to hledger 1.0, legacy \f[C]account\f[R] and \f[C]end\f[R]
spellings were also supported.
.PP
A default parent account also affects account directives.
It does not affect account names being entered via hledger add or
hledger-web.
If account aliases are present, they are applied after the default
parent account.
.SH PERIODIC TRANSACTIONS
.PP
Periodic transaction rules describe transactions that recur.
They allow hledger to generate temporary future transactions to help
with forecasting, so you don\[aq]t have to write out each one in the
journal, and it\[aq]s easy to try out different forecasts.
.PP
Periodic transactions can be a little tricky, so before you use them,
read this whole section - or at least these tips:
.IP "1." 3
Two spaces accidentally added or omitted will cause you trouble - read
about this below.
.IP "2." 3
For troubleshooting, show the generated transactions with
\f[C]hledger print --forecast tag:generated\f[R] or
\f[C]hledger register --forecast tag:generated\f[R].
.IP "3." 3
Forecasted transactions will begin only after the last non-forecasted
transaction\[aq]s date.
.IP "4." 3
Forecasted transactions will end 6 months from today, by default.
See below for the exact start/end rules.
.IP "5." 3
period expressions can be tricky.
Their documentation needs improvement, but is worth studying.
.IP "6." 3
Some period expressions with a repeating interval must begin on a
natural boundary of that interval.
Eg in \f[C]weekly from DATE\f[R], DATE must be a monday.
\f[C]\[ti] weekly from 2019/10/1\f[R] (a tuesday) will give an error.
.IP "7." 3
Other period expressions with an interval are automatically expanded to
cover a whole number of that interval.
(This is done to improve reports, but it also affects periodic
transactions.
Yes, it\[aq]s a bit inconsistent with the above.) Eg:
\f[C]\[ti] every 10th day of month from 2020/01\f[R], which is
equivalent to \f[C]\[ti] every 10th day of month from 2020/01/01\f[R],
will be adjusted to start on 2019/12/10.
.PP
Periodic transaction rules also have a second meaning: they are used to
define budget goals, shown in budget reports.
.SS Periodic rule syntax
.PP
A periodic transaction rule looks like a normal journal entry, with the
date replaced by a tilde (\f[C]\[ti]\f[R]) followed by a period
expression (mnemonic: \f[C]\[ti]\f[R] looks like a recurring sine
wave.):
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
\[ti] monthly
    expenses:rent          $2000
    assets:bank:checking
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
There is an additional constraint on the period expression: the start
date must fall on a natural boundary of the interval.
Eg \f[C]monthly from 2018/1/1\f[R] is valid, but
\f[C]monthly from 2018/1/15\f[R] is not.
.PP
Partial or relative dates (M/D, D, tomorrow, last week) in the period
expression can work (useful or not).
They will be relative to today\[aq]s date, unless a Y default year
directive is in effect, in which case they will be relative to Y/1/1.
.SS Two spaces between period expression and description!
.PP
If the period expression is followed by a transaction description, these
must be separated by \f[B]two or more spaces\f[R].
This helps hledger know where the period expression ends, so that
descriptions can not accidentally alter their meaning, as in this
example:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; 2 or more spaces needed here, so the period is not understood as \[dq]every 2 months in 2020\[dq]
;               ||
;               vv
\[ti] every 2 months  in 2020, we will review
    assets:bank:checking   $1500
    income:acme inc
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
So,
.IP \[bu] 2
Do write two spaces between your period expression and your transaction
description, if any.
.IP \[bu] 2
Don\[aq]t accidentally write two spaces in the middle of your period
expression.
.SS Forecasting with periodic transactions
.PP
The \f[C]--forecast\f[R] flag activates any periodic transaction rules
in the journal.
They will generate temporary recurring transactions, which are not saved
in the journal, but will appear in all reports (eg print).
This can be useful for estimating balances into the future, or
experimenting with different scenarios.
Or, it can be used as a data entry aid: describe recurring transactions,
and every so often copy the output of \f[C]print --forecast\f[R] into
the journal.
.PP
These transactions will have an extra tag indicating which periodic rule
generated them: \f[C]generated-transaction:\[ti] PERIODICEXPR\f[R].
And a similar, hidden tag (beginning with an underscore) which, because
it\[aq]s never displayed by print, can be used to match transactions
generated \[dq]just now\[dq]:
\f[C]_generated-transaction:\[ti] PERIODICEXPR\f[R].
.PP
Periodic transactions are generated within some forecast period.
By default, this
.IP \[bu] 2
begins on the later of
.RS 2
.IP \[bu] 2
the report start date if specified with -b/-p/date:
.IP \[bu] 2
the day after the latest normal (non-periodic) transaction in the
journal, or today if there are no normal transactions.
.RE
.IP \[bu] 2
ends on the report end date if specified with -e/-p/date:, or 6 months
(180 days) from today.
.PP
This means that periodic transactions will begin only after the latest
recorded transaction.
And a recorded transaction dated in the future can prevent generation of
periodic transactions.
(You can avoid that by writing the future transaction as a one-time
periodic rule instead - put tilde before the date, eg
\f[C]\[ti] YYYY-MM-DD ...\f[R]).
.PP
Or, you can set your own arbitrary \[dq]forecast period\[dq], which can
overlap recorded transactions, and need not be in the future, by
providing an option argument, like \f[C]--forecast=PERIODEXPR\f[R].
Note the equals sign is required, a space won\[aq]t work.
PERIODEXPR is a period expression, which can specify the start date, end
date, or both, like in a \f[C]date:\f[R] query.
(See also hledger.1 -> Report start & end date).
Some examples: \f[C]--forecast=202001-202004\f[R],
\f[C]--forecast=jan-\f[R], \f[C]--forecast=2020\f[R].
.SS Budgeting with periodic transactions
.PP
With the \f[C]--budget\f[R] flag, currently supported by the balance
command, each periodic transaction rule declares recurring budget goals
for the specified accounts.
Eg the first example above declares a goal of spending $2000 on rent
(and also, a goal of depositing $2000 into checking) every month.
Goals and actual performance can then be compared in budget reports.
.PP
See also: Budgeting and Forecasting.
.PP
.SH AUTO POSTINGS
.PP
\[dq]Automated postings\[dq] or \[dq]auto postings\[dq] are extra
postings which get added automatically to transactions which match
certain queries, defined by \[dq]auto posting rules\[dq], when you use
the \f[C]--auto\f[R] flag.
.PP
An auto posting rule looks a bit like a transaction:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
= QUERY
    ACCOUNT  AMOUNT
    ...
    ACCOUNT  [AMOUNT]
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
except the first line is an equals sign (mnemonic: \f[C]=\f[R] suggests
matching), followed by a query (which matches existing postings), and
each \[dq]posting\[dq] line describes a posting to be generated, and the
posting amounts can be:
.IP \[bu] 2
a normal amount with a commodity symbol, eg \f[C]$2\f[R].
This will be used as-is.
.IP \[bu] 2
a number, eg \f[C]2\f[R].
The commodity symbol (if any) from the matched posting will be added to
this.
.IP \[bu] 2
a numeric multiplier, eg \f[C]*2\f[R] (a star followed by a number N).
The matched posting\[aq]s amount (and total price, if any) will be
multiplied by N.
.IP \[bu] 2
a multiplier with a commodity symbol, eg \f[C]*$2\f[R] (a star, number
N, and symbol S).
The matched posting\[aq]s amount will be multiplied by N, and its
commodity symbol will be replaced with S.
.PP
Any query term containing spaces must be enclosed in single or double
quotes, as on the command line.
Eg, note the quotes around the second query term below:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
= expenses:groceries \[aq]expenses:dining out\[aq]
    (budget:funds:dining out)                 *-1
\f[R]
.fi
.PP
Some examples:
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
; every time I buy food, schedule a dollar donation
= expenses:food
    (liabilities:charity)   $-1

; when I buy a gift, also deduct that amount from a budget envelope subaccount
= expenses:gifts
    assets:checking:gifts  *-1
    assets:checking         *1

2017/12/1
  expenses:food    $10
  assets:checking

2017/12/14
  expenses:gifts   $20
  assets:checking
\f[R]
.fi
.IP
.nf
\f[C]
$ hledger print --auto
2017-12-01
    expenses:food              $10
    assets:checking
    (liabilities:charity)      $-1

2017-12-14
    expenses:gifts             $20
    assets:checking
    assets:checking:gifts     -$20
    assets:checking            $20
\f[R]
.fi
.SS Auto postings and multiple files
.PP
An auto posting rule can affect any transaction in the current file, or
in any parent file or child file.
Note, currently it will not affect sibling files (when multiple
\f[C]-f\f[R]/\f[C]--file\f[R] are used - see #1212).
.SS Auto postings and dates
.PP
A posting date (or secondary date) in the matched posting, or (taking
precedence) a posting date in the auto posting rule itself, will also be
used in the generated posting.
.SS Auto postings and transaction balancing / inferred amounts / balance assertions
.PP
Currently, auto postings are added:
.IP \[bu] 2
after missing amounts are inferred, and transactions are checked for
balancedness,
.IP \[bu] 2
but before balance assertions are checked.
.PP
Note this means that journal entries must be balanced both before and
after auto postings are added.
This changed in hledger 1.12+; see #893 for background.
.SS Auto posting tags
.PP
Automated postings will have some extra tags:
.IP \[bu] 2
\f[C]generated-posting:= QUERY\f[R] - shows this was generated by an
auto posting rule, and the query
.IP \[bu] 2
\f[C]_generated-posting:= QUERY\f[R] - a hidden tag, which does not
appear in hledger\[aq]s output.
This can be used to match postings generated \[dq]just now\[dq], rather
than generated in the past and saved to the journal.
.PP
Also, any transaction that has been changed by auto posting rules will
have these tags added:
.IP \[bu] 2
\f[C]modified:\f[R] - this transaction was modified
.IP \[bu] 2
\f[C]_modified:\f[R] - a hidden tag not appearing in the comment; this
transaction was modified \[dq]just now\[dq].


.SH "REPORTING BUGS"
Report bugs at http://bugs.hledger.org
(or on the #hledger IRC channel or hledger mail list)

.SH AUTHORS
Simon Michael <simon@joyful.com> and contributors

.SH COPYRIGHT

Copyright (C) 2007-2020 Simon Michael.
.br
Released under GNU GPL v3 or later.

.SH SEE ALSO
hledger(1), hledger\-ui(1), hledger\-web(1), ledger(1)

hledger_journal(5), hledger_csv(5), hledger_timeclock(5), hledger_timedot(5)