NetSuite Icons for Saved Searches : Jazz Up Your Data

You may have noticed that the further up the line of authority you go in an organization the less people care about the mechanics of the system and more they care about the data coming out. Reporting becomes the number one need and they will want the data presented in the most easily digestible way possible.

In NetSuite icons are one way you can brighten up the typically drab Saved Search results page. In this article I will teach you how to use icons in various ways, understand their benefits and I’ll point you in the direction of other techniques you can use to jazz up your data.


Saved Searches are the most flexible way to analyze data in NetSuite but, admittedly, they are not the prettiest. This is definitely one of the reasons a lot of finance personnel are drawn towards Reports as opposed to Saved Searches even though they are fiddlier and less versatile.

Saved Searches are the way to go but you need to find clever ways to format them and keep the viewer’s attention. The first step is to use highlighting. If you are not already using highlighting in your Saved Searches you can learn how in this article.

Highlighting with colors adds some life to your data and using the standard icons is even more fun but they are limited to one criteria each per line. I also find that the icons are a little hidden on the left-hand side with no column header. Using icons as a data value instead means less reading, more visually engaging and endless possibilities. This following screenshot is from an aged transaction search.

Example of NetSuite icons being used as column values in an aging report.

These are not the standard NetSuite icons. Here I am using Unicode. Although the NetSuite icons used on the highlighting tab of the Saved Search are limited, Unicode has over 100,000 available symbols. You can therefore be much more descriptive with your choices.

To create the above example I am using the following formatting methods to produce a much more appealing Saved Search that will please even the grumpiest of Finance Managers:

Highlighting – We are highlighting customers who are over their credit limit. This is the standard method described here.

Industry Icons – Instead of using the name of industries we are showing icons. Here I have chosen a knife and fork for restaurants and a ship to label a couple of shipping companies. With the variety of icons available you can really convey a lot in category type columns like this.

Green Checkmarks – The most obvious way to present the number of days aged is as a numeric value in one column. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s not particularly engaging and both large and small numbers tend not to stick out. First, we have split the days into different columns based off aging brackets. Each invoice is going to show a TRUE or FALSE value in each of these columns. Instead of showing the TRUE or FALSE we are showing a green checkmark or leaving the column blank.

The green checkmark is, of course, available on the highlighting tab of the Saved Search as one of the NetSuite icons. Remember, however, that these can only be used as an indicator for the entire row and are displayed to the left of all data. Here we are using the icon as a column specific indicator. The position and presence of the icon can change depending on the data.

How to add custom NetSuite icons to your Saved Search

To achieve the result shown above with icons we are using two tools

  1. A CASE WHEN SQL Statement
  2. Unicode Icons

A CASE WHEN statement is a SQL tool. We use a Formula field to give different values for different results. For example – When the industry is Restaurant, give a knife and fork icon, when the industry is shipping, give a ship icon otherwise leave the column blank. As a CASE WHEN statement this looks similar to the following

CASE WHEN {industry} = ‘Restaurant’ THEN ‘🍴’ WHEN {industry} = ‘Shipping’ THEN ‘🚢’ ELSE NULL END

If you have not used a CASE WHEN statement before you should check out our introduction to this type of formula here.

The final piece of the puzzle is the icons. Where am I getting my cool knife and fork? These are Unicode characters and as mentioned, there are THOUSANDS of them.

A fantastic resource for these is a website called Unicode-Table.com. Here you can search for the icon you are looking for and just copy and paste it into your formula. There are so many options here you might get ideas for how you can jazz up your searches simply by browsing.

Below I have added another column to clearly indicate with a star those customers that have received extended payment terms (determined by a checkbox on the customer record).

Green checkmarks and stars being used as conditional values in a NetSuite saved search

The other great thing about using Unicode icons is that, unlike highlighting, they export fine into Excel. Unicode icons are standard characters and not images so they will export as per the following screenshot.

Example of how saved search results export when they include Unicode values.

Once you master this simple technique, you’ll be able to draw more people back to the humble Saved Search and that, in my opinion, is a great thing.

This is of course only an introduction but hopefully it will help to open your eyes to the possibilities around formatting your Saved Searches. Start experimenting and as always get in touch if you have a specific question on how you can better achieve the results you want from this NetSuite feature.


If you are interested in other aspects of NetSuite’s reporting capability the following articles will help –

Financial Reporting in NetSuite

NetSuite’s KPI Scorecards

Creating a Custom KPI in NetSuite

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