LEDGER(1) General Commands Manual LEDGER(1)
ledger - command-line accounting
ledger [options] command [acct-regex]... [-- payee-regex...]
Ledger is a command-line accounting tool with the moxie to exist. It provides no bells or whistles, and returns the user to the days
before user interfaces were even a twinkling in their father's CRT.
This man page is a summary of the command-line usage of ledger along with a short example of a Ledger data file. For more complete docu-
mentation see the Ledger Reference Manual, (via the info ledger command or otherwise).
All commands require a Ledger data file which can be specified with -f filename or via the LEDGER_FILE environment variable.
The balance and register commands provide the primary functionality of Ledger and are used most frequently:
bal, balance [REGEXP]...
Reports the current balance of all matching accounts. If an account contains multiple types of commodities, each commodity's total
is reported separately.
reg, register [REGEXP]...
Displays all the transactions occurring in the matching accounts, line by line. The output from register is very close to what a
typical checkbook, or single-account ledger, would look like. It also shows a running balance. The final running balance of any
register should always be the same as the current balance of that account.
Several commands are effectively variants of register. These commands accept the same options and display the same transactions as regis-
ter and differ only in the format of the output:
Displays transactions in a format that can be parsed by Ledger. They will be properly formatted and output in the most economic
form possible. The print command can be a handy way to clean up a Ledger file whose formatting has gotten out of hand.
Displays transactions in an XML format that can then be read and processed by external tools. Use the --totals option to include
the running total with each transaction.
Displays transactions in a format that can be read directly by Emacs Lisp.
The remaining commands are each useful in particular circumstances:
Prints out account balances as if they were entries. This makes it easy to establish the starting balances for accounts, (such as
when beginning a new Ledger file to then archive previous years).
Displays the price history for matching commodities. The -A option is useful with this report to display the average running
price, or -D to show each price's deviation from that average.
Produces the same information as prices but in a format that can be parsed by Ledger.
entry DATE PAYEE AMOUNT
Output a derived entry, based on the arguments and an account matching PAYEE in the transacation history. If Ledger does not suc-
ceed in generating a new entry, an error is printed and the exit code is set to 1.
Print a summary of the basic options and commands. This help screen is also printed if ledger is run without a command.
Print a help message including all command-line options.
Prints the current version of Ledger and exits. This is useful for sending bug reports, to let the author know which version of
Ledger you are using.
-f, --file FILE
Reads FILE as a Ledger file. Typically, the environment variable LEDGER_FILE is set rather than using this command-line option.
-o, --output FILE
Redirects output from any command to FILE. By default, all output goes to standard output.
-i, --init-file FILE
Causes FILE to be read by ledger before any other Ledger file. This file may not contain any transactions, but it may contain
option settings. To specify options in the init file, use the same syntax as the command-line, but put each option on it's own
line. Option settings on the command-line or in the environment always take precedence over settings in the init file. The default
init file is ~/.ledgerrc.
Identifies FILE as the default binary cache file. That is, whenever a command is finished a binary copy of the input files will be
written to the specified cache, to speed up the loading time of subsequent queries. This filename can also be given using the envi-
ronment variable LEDGER_CACHE or by putting the option into your init file.
Causes Ledger to always ignore the binary cache.
-a, --account NAME
Specifies the default account which QIF file transactions are assumed to relate to.
Report filtering options
These options change which transactions affect the outcome of a report, in ways other than just using regular expressions:
Displays only entries occurring on or before the current date.
-b, --begin DATE
Constrains the report to entries on or after DATE. Only entries after that date will be calculated, which means that the running
total in the balance report will always start at zero with the first matching entry. Note: This is different from using --display
to constrain what is displayed.
-e, --end DATE
Constrains the report so that entries on or after DATE are not considered. The ending date is inclusive.
-p, --period STR
Sets the reporting period to STR. This will subtotal all matching entries within each period separately, making it easy to see
weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. transaction totals. A period string can even specify the beginning and end of the report range,
using simple terms like last june or next month. For more using period expressions, see the Period Expressions section of the
Ledger Reference Manual.
Sorts the transactions within each reporting period using the value expression EXPR. This is most often useful when reporting
monthly expenses. For example, to view the highest expense categories at the top of each month use:
ledger -M --period-sort -At reg ^Expenses
Displays only transactions whose entry has been marked cleared (by placing an asterix to the right of the date).
Displays only transactions whose entry has not been marked cleared (i.e., if there is no asterix to the right of the date).
Displays only real transactions, not virtual. A virtual transaction is indicated by surrounding the account name with parentheses
or brackets, (see the Ledger Reference Manual for more on using virtual transactions).
Displays only actual transactions, and not those created due to automated transactions.
Displays transactions that are related to whichever transactions would otherwise have matched the filtering criteria. In the regis-
ter report, this shows where money went to, or the account it came from. In the balance report, it shows all the accounts affected
by entries having a related transaction.
Display budgeted transactions only.
Shows both budgeted and unbudgeted transactions. This option is useful for displaying how close your actual transactions meet your
Show only unbudgeted transactions.
Projects your budget into the future, (while EXPR is true), showing how it will affect future balances.
-l, --limit EXPR
Calculate only transactions matching EXPR. (See the Value Expressions section of Ledger Reference Manual for more details on possi-
ble values of EXPR for this and other options.)
-t, --amount EXPR
Sets the value expression used to calculate the value column in the register report, the account totals in the balance report, and
the values printed in the equity report.
-T, --total EXPR
Sets the value expression used for the totals column in the register and balance reports. EXPR to calculate the displayed total.
Output customization options
Causes entries in a register report with multiple transactions to be collapsed into a single, subtotaled entry.
Causes all entries in a register report to be collapsed into a single, subtotaled entry.
Reports subtotals by payee.
Changes the payee of every transaction to be the commodity used in that transaction. This can be useful when combined with other
options, such as -s, --sort.
Includes even empty accounts in the balance report.
reports transaction totals by the week. The week begins on whichever day of the week begins the month containing that transaction.
To set a specific begin date, use a period string, such as --period weekly from DATE.
Reports transaction totals by month.
Reports transaction totals by year.
--dow Reports transactions totals for each day of the week. This is an easy way to see if weekend spending is more than on weekdays.
-S, --sort EXPR
Sorts a report by comparing the values determined using the value expression EXPR. For example, using --sort date will sort by
date, (useful if included files cover different date ranges), and --sort -UT in the balance report will sort account balances from
greatest to least, using the absolute value of the total. For more on how to use value expressions, see the Value Expressions sec-
tion of the Ledger Reference Manual.
Causes the default register report to assume 132 columns instead of 80.
Show only the first COUNT entries. If a negative amount is given, it will invert the meaning of the flag (instead of the first five
entries being printed, for example, it would print all but the first five).
Show only the last COUNT entries. If a negative amount is given, it will invert the meaning of the flag (instead of the last five
entries being printed, for example, it would print all but the last five).
Tells ledger to pass its output to the given pager program---very useful when the output is especially long. This behavior can be
made the default by setting the LEDGER_PAGER environment variable.
Reports the average transaction value.
Reports each transaction's deviation from the average. It is only meaningful in the register and prices reports.
Shows account subtotals in the balance report as percentages of the parent account.
Include running total information in the xml report.
Changes the register report so that it outputs nothing but the date and the value column, and the latter without commodities. This
is only meaningful if the report uses a single commodity. This data can then be fed to other programs, which could plot the date,
analyze it, etc.
Changes the register report so that it outputs nothing but the date and totals column, without commodities.
-d, --display EXPR
Limits which transactions or accounts or actually displayed in a report. They might still be calculated, and be part of the running
total of a register report, for example, but they will not be displayed.
-y, --date-format STR
Changes the basic date format used by reports. The default uses a date like 2004/08/01, which represents the default date format of
%Y/%m/%d. To change the way dates are printed in general, the easiest way is to put --date-format FORMAT in the Ledger initializa-
tion file ~/.ledgerrc (or the file referred to by LEDGER_INIT).
-F, --format STR
Sets the reporting format for whatever report ledger is about to make. See the Format Strings section of the Ledger Reference Man-
ual for details.
Commodity price options
These options affect how commodity values are displayed:
Sets the file that is used for recording downloaded commodity prices. It is always read on startup, to determine historical prices.
The default file is ~/.pricedb.
-L, --price-exp MINS
Sets the expected freshness of price quotes, in minutes. That is, if the last known quote for any commodity is older than this
value---and if --download is being used---then the internet will be consulted again for a newer price. Otherwise, the old price is
still considered to be fresh enough. (Default value is 1440 minutes.)
Causes quotes to be automatically downloaded, as needed, by running a script named getquote and expecting that script to return a
value understood by ledger. A sample implementation of a getquote script, implemented in Perl, is provided in the distribution.
Downloaded quote price are then appended to the price database, usually specified using the environment variable LEDGER_PRICE_DB.
Commodity reporting options
There are several different ways that ledger can report the totals it displays. The most flexible way to adjust them is by using value
expressions and the -t and -T options. However, there are also several standard reports, which will satisfy most users' basic reporting
Reports commodity totals (this is the default).
Reports the cost basis for all transactions.
Reports the last known market value for all commodities.
Reports the net gain/loss for each transaction in a register report.
Reports the net gain/loss for all commodities in the report that have a price history.
Every option to ledger may be set using an environment variable. If an option has a long name such as --this-option then setting the envi-
ronment variable LEDGER_THIS_OPTION will have the same effect as specifying that option on the command-line. Options on the command-line
always take precedence over environment variable settings, however. Note that you may also permanently specify option values by placing
option settings in the file ~/.ledgerrc by default, (or the file specified by the LEDGER_INIT_FILE environment variable).
Of special note is the LEDGER_FILE environment variable which almost all users of Ledger will find convenient:
Set to a file, to be read by the ledger command. This avoids the requirement to pass --file FILE to every invocation of ledger.
Here is sample data file (ledger.dat from the distribution) demonstrating most of the features of the ledger data-file format. These
include comments (;), automated transactions (=), virtual transactions ( (account-name) ), periodic (budget) transactions (~), cleared
transactions (*), commodity transactions (SYMBOL @), and check numbers ( (NUMBER) ).
; Sample file ledger.dat
; An automated transaction to a virtual account
; A periodic (budget) transaction
; A cleared transaction
2004/05/01 * Checking balance
; A transaction involving multiple commodities
2004/05/01 * Investment balance
Assets:Brokerage 50 AAPL @ $30.00
2004/05/14 * Pay day
2004/05/27 Book Store
; A transaction with a check number
2004/05/27 (100) Credit card company
The Ledger Reference Manual available via info ledger if ledger and info are properly installed.
The ledger homepage: http://wiki.github.com/jwiegley/ledger
Ledger 2.6.2 2009-08-06 LEDGER(1)