Journal Entries

Tracking business activity with T accounts would be cumbersome because most businesses have a large number of transactions each day. These transactions are initially recorded on source documents, such as invoices or checks. The first step in the accounting process is to analyze each transaction and identify what effect it has on the accounts. After making this determination, an accountant enters the transactions in chronological order into a journal, a process called journalizing the transactions. Although many companies use specialized journals for certain transactions, all businesses use a general journal. In this book, the terms general journal and journal are used interchangeably.

The journal's page number appears near the upper right corner. In the example below, GJ1 stands for page 1 of the general journal. Many general journals have five columns: Date, Account Title and Description, Posting Reference, Debit, and Credit.

 

 

To record a journal entry, begin by entering the date of the transaction in the journal's date column. For convenience, include the year and month only at the top of each page and next to each month's first entry. In the next column, list each account affected by the transaction on a separate line, and enter a short description of the transaction immediately below the list of accounts. The accounts being debited always appear above the accounts being credited, which are indented slightly. The posting reference column remains blank until the journal entry is transferred to the accounts, a process called posting, at which time the account's number is placed in this column. Finally, enter the debit or credit amount for each account in the appropriate columns on the right side of the journal. Generally, one blank line separates each transaction.