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Quick Explanation of the Item Alias Feature

Invoice Items are required to have a main item number. This value is entered into the Name/Number field of the item. That item number may not be the item number used by the vendor(s) that you buy the item from. The Item Alias feature allows you to enter an item number that is unique to each of the vendors you purchase the item from. This allows you to search for and use their item number or yours. You can also scan their barcode to locate an item, even if that item’s Name/Number value is different than the vendors item number.

Here is a Practical Use Case

Many companies manufacturer the “Run Capacitor 45/5/440”. The manufacturer will most often obtain a Universal Product Code (UPC). This is a unique nationally registered number for their capacitor. They may also have their own separate part number.

Numerous vendors may sell this capacitor. They might use the manufacturer’s item number or they may assign their own part number.

Note: Companies use different terms for their “part numbers”. This includes SKU, Item Number, Part Number, Order Number, Stock Number, and more.

Consider This Real Example: TradePro®:

The Item: TP-CAP-45/5/440R – 45+5 MFD 440 Volt Round Run Capacitor.

Manufacturer: TradePro®. TradePro is a private label parts and supplies brand.
Mfg. Part #: TP-CAP-45/5/440R
UPC: 817506023163

They sell their parts through at least eleven partners (vendors). Each may have their own part number.

Vendor 01 Item #: TPR455440
Vendor 02 Item #: CAP455440
Vendor 03 Item #: MTRR455440

Other manufacturers make the “same” capacitor. You may have ten of these capacitors, made by four or five different manufactures, sold by multiple vendors.

What to do in Total Office Manager

  1. If you wish to keep track of the various manufacturers and their part numbers, add each of those manufacturers as Vendors. Then add their part number in the Alias field of each item.
  2. If you purchase the item from one or more vendors, add each of them as Vendors. Be sure to check the box called “This vendor might supply materials for resale.”
  3. In each item, open the Alias form, locate the vendor, and that vendor’s part number.
  4. Optional: Enter the name of the manufacturer in the Manufacturer’s Name field. Enter their part number in the Manufacturer’s Number field (General tab). Use these fields when the item is made by a single company or for the main manufacturer you deal with. Note: These fields were designed mostly for equipment manufactures and not parts.

Detailed Information

The Item Alias feature is used to create multiple item numbers for a single item. Organizations often assign bogus, made-up numbers to items for when they appear on documents customers see — like estimates and invoices.  Doing so helps prevent customers from using internet search engines to find the wholesale cost of an item, then using it to bargain for a better deal.  The item alias feature helps manage this process and reduce the likelihood of price comparisons by customers.

As a basic overview of the item alias concept, an inventory part is created in normal fashion.  Then an alias is entered in the Item Alias form for that part.  The actual item number is still used when preparing invoices.  But, when the invoice is printed, the appropriate item alias will be substituted for the actual number, thus concealing it from the public.

Furthering this concept, item aliases may also be used when ordering from vendors.  Many service companies use their own proprietary system of assigning part numbers to inventory.  These proprietary numbers mean nothing to a vendor if they appear on a purchase order.  By using the item alias feature, purchase orders can be prepared using the actual proprietary numbers created within an organization.  But, when the purchase order is printed, the appropriate item alias will be substituted for the actual number, thus making the PO understandable to the vendor.


You sell a 2-pole 30-amp ITE style breaker.  You buy this breaker from two different vendors; each having their own part number.  In the invoice item record the actual part number has been setup using your own proprietary part number.  A logical actual part number might be BKRITE302.  Here is how the part number breaks out (this is the nomenclature):

BKR = Breaker     ITE = ITE Style     30 = 30 amps     2 = 2 poles

Two aliases are then entered in that part’s Item Alias form (one for Vendor-A and one for Vendor-B).

  • Vendor-A’s item alias for BKRITE302 might be 123456
  • Vendor-B’s item alias for BKRITE302 might be ABCXYZ

Now, when creating a purchase order to Vendor-A, use the actual part number BKRITE302.  When the PO is printed, part number “123456” will be substituted for BKRITE302.

Similarly, when creating a purchase order to Vendor-B, continue to use the actual part number BKRITE302.  When the PO is printed, part number “ABCXYZ” will be substituted for BKRITE302.

Enabling the Item Alias Feature

Prior to use, the “Use Item Alias Feature” must first be enabled in the program.

To enable the feature go to the main menu and click Edit | Preferences.  In the “Items” tab tick the “Use Item Alias Feature” checkbox.   Click the Close button to exit preferences.

Important Note

Even if the “Use Item Alias Feature” has been enabled in system preferences, the printing of aliases can still be controlled from the various print setup options during the printing process.  Look for the “Item Aliases” control area in the print setup options when printing estimates, sales, invoices, and purchases orders.

Important Tip: To have item aliases appear on printed estimates, sales, invoices, and purchase orders, make sure the “Use Item Name/Number Alias” radio button is selected in Print Options.

Opening the Item Alias Form

  • From an item record, click Menu | Alias.  Note: Aliases are not available for all invoice items.

Using Item Aliases

Two main areas exist in a part’s Item Alias window — the Customer pane (on the left), and the Vendor pane (on the right).  Each pane is controlled in identical fashion.

  • A single alias can simply be entered into a particular “Alias” field.
  • If the same alias is to be entered in many “Alias” fields, enter the name of the alias in the respective “Apply to Selected Customers/Vendors” field, select the rows in which to have the alias entered, and click the “Apply” button.

Item Alias Example

In the example below, different aliases were directly entered for the vendors “Ace Hardware” and for “Johnstone Supply – Lenexa”.  Those who do not have an alias applied will see the actual item number on printed documents.

Conversely, in the example below, all customers have had the alias “Breaker-15Amp” applied.  The user entered “Breaker-15Amp” in the “Apply to Selected Customers” field, highlighted the customers to receive the alias, and clicked the “Apply” button.  The alias was automatically applied to all selected customers.

For more information on how to select multiple records at once, see the section Selecting Records in Lists in the help topic “List Management – Sorting & Displaying”.


  • If no alias has been applied to a particular customer or vendor, the item’s actual number will be used by default.
  • Not all item types will include the item alias feature (Example: Sales Tax Items or Sales Tax Item Groups)
  • You can use the Advanced Search tool (click Edit > Advanced Search) to search for item aliases.
  • Use item aliases to allow for easy ordering of the same part from different vendors.
  • Use the item alias feature to prevent customers from obtaining the part number and ordering parts without you.
  • To lookup a part by it’s alias when creating a sale, invoice, purchase order, estimate, etc, use the Item Lookup tool.  Open the tool by clicking <Lookup>, which is found at the top of the Item drop-down on applicable forms.
  • Note: You must have a Customer:Job or a Vendor selected before the lookup form will display aliases.

Related Topics

Why is the list of vendors limited in the item alias?

How do I Setup Item Aliases?