When a model’s business case is broken down into its component parts, line items describe the measures, or characteristics, of the data, usually the results of a calculation.
Line items define the logic of what is being measured, being used to store data and to calculate values based on the data in other line items.
Let’s say you have been collecting data about the Total Operating Expenses for your organization. You have described the categories of data as Salary, Benefits, Travel, Marketing, and Overheads. Each category is represented by a line item in a module.
Line items are very flexible and can have many formats (email address, number, Boolean, date, text, etc.) each with options that enable you to record or describe any kind of data.
Line items are generally used for one of three purposes, to:
- enter data;
- reference lists or other line items;
- store calculations, often using other line items.
The line items in any module can be accessed from any other module within the model (to create line item subsets or when editing a formula, for example). To see all the line items in a model, navigate to Model Settings > Modules > Line Items tab. Line items from different modules can also be combined into a line item subset to be used as a list within the model.
Line items are configured in Blueprint. They are flexible, having a number of potential attributes, including:
- formulae to derive values, send emails, etc.
- format: Number, Date, Time, etc.
- the Versions to which the line item applies.
- other module line item names that reference this line item.
- the names of line items that reference this line item from another module.
If a list-formatted line item has a formula applied to it, the line item cannot act as an input—the formula takes precedence rather than any list formatting.
Line Items and List Items
Line Items and List Items are completely different elements of a model.
- belong to the module in which they were created.
- can contain a formula (the formula applies to all cells within that line item, unlike Excel which applies formulae to individual cells).
- represent how your data is measured or expressed (a date, a Boolean value, a calculation, a value assigned from a list, etc.).
- belong to a list (not to the module the list is used in).
- can be used in any module in the model.
- can be referenced in a formula.
- define the structure, of a model (areas, departments, account codes, product lines, opportunity types, etc.).
Naming line items
A line item name can be up to 60 characters long (including white space) and should be unique within the model. A line item subset cannot include two line items with the same name, so give every line item in a model a unique name to prevent any conflict.
Use single quotes before and after line item names if they contain:
an operator such as a hyphen or asterisk.
the words IF, AND, or OR.
Single quotes ensure that characters in a list or line item name do not affect formulas and operators.
Do not include emojis or special characters in line item names as they can cause import and export processes to fail.
Create a line item
- Open the module to which line items are to be added.
- Select Blueprint.
- From the Edit menu, select Insert.
- Enter one (or more) line item name(s), choose a position, and click OK.
- Configure the line items in Blueprint.
Configure a line item
To configure individual line items, switch to Blueprint view.
Work with line items
There are many ways you can use line items to add flexibility to a model:
- You can right-click and hide line items to prevent them being displayed in views or when published to a dashboard.
- To organize large numbers of line items, you can create dummy line items to act as sub-headings. Create a line item; apply a style that makes it stand out; ensure no dimensionality is applied; and that the Format column in Blueprint has the value No Data.
- To create a picklist of all users whose Role allows access to the model, configure the list formatted line item using the Users list.
- When the line items referenced in a calculation have different dimensions, you can map the relationship.
Say your calculation references a version of a module (Module A), but the module supplying the data (Module B) does not. You can make Module A.Line Item 1 equal to Module B.Line Item 1 (using SELECT: VERSIONS.My Version).
This process also works for a list item or a time period.
Where line items relate to lists that are part of a hierarchy, you can define how the values for child items will aggregate.
Where a line item applies to a composite list (comprising Parent 1, Child 1, Child 2, and Child 3), you can choose to sum the child items (or average them, apply a formula, etc.) in the Summary field in Blueprint. A separate set of options apply to Time item summaries.