General Ledger Journals - BC Bookkeeping Tutorials|

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General Ledger Journals

General Ledger Journals
General Ledger & Journals

What Information does a General Ledger and General Journal contain ?

Let's take a look at a sample record for each to find out exactly what financial information they provide.
General Ledger

  • Name of Account and Account Number
  • Date of Posting
  • Description-additional notes about the entry if needed
  • Posting Reference-journals name (abbreviation) , page, and entry reference
  • Amounts of the debits or credits transferred (posted) from the General Journal
  • Current Balance of the Account

Sample of a General Ledger Page

The Posting Reference GJ-1-1 refers to:
GJ-General Journal
1-Page 1
1-Entry Number 1
Account Name:Cash Account Number:100
DateDescriptionPost RefDebit AmountCredit AmountBalance
Jan 1,xxxxBeginning Balance

Jan 5,xxxx
Jan 8,xxxx
Jan 10,xxxx

Notice that the account has an amount column for debits (left side or first column) and an amount column for credits (right side or second column).

General Journal

Journals are preliminary records where business transactions are first entered into the accounting system. The journal is commonly referred to as the book of original entry.

Specialized Journals-are journals used to initially record special types of transactions such as sales, cash disbursements, and cash receipts in their own journal.

The end result of double entry bookkeeping is having an up to date , in balance, and properly
posted Ledger. In our prior lessons we recorded all our debits and credits (transactions) directly in the General Ledger. This would work for a small business that had very few transactions
but would become unwieldy for most businesses with any volume of activity. By its very definition the General Ledger is supposed to be a summary record of a business’s
financial transactions.

It logically follows that since we only want summary amounts in our Ledger we need to record
our detail entries some place else first. What record(s) do we use to do this ? You’re right ! Journals are our preliminary records. All our transactions are first entered in a preliminary record called a journal or book of original entry. This process is called journalizing.

After our business transactions have been entered in our journal(s), they are then periodically (usually monthly) summarized and totaled and then transferred (posted) to the General Ledger as summary entries.

What type of information is included in the Journal Record ?

  • Entry Number
  • Date of each transaction
  • Names and/or the account numbers of the accounts to be debited or credited
  • Amounts of the debits and credits
  • Posting Reference-Account Number in the General Ledger
  • Explanation or description of the entry

The journals contain all the chronological (by date) information necessary to record debit and credit amounts in the accounts of the General Ledger.

Sample Of A General Journal Page
General Journal Page 1
Entry NoDateAccount NamePost Ref.DebitCredit
GJ-1-1Jan 5,xxxxSupplies5021000

Record Supplies Expense
GJ-1-2Jan 8,xxxxCash100200

Record Cash Sale
GJ-1-3Jan 10,xxxxAdvertising Expense500400

Record Advertising Expense
GJ-1-4Jan 20,xxxxUtilities


Record Utilities Expense
Do you notice anything odd about any of our entries in our General Journal ?

Look at entry number 4 (GJ-1-4). It doesn’t have a posting reference. Why not ? The answer is simple. Entry Number 4 has not yet been posted to the General Ledger. This is our way of keeping up with what entries have and have not been posted to the General Ledger.

Let's continue by taking a look at ABC Mowing's Balances.

The Balances in our Table are the Beginning Balances in ABC's General Ledger Accounts presented below.
ABC's Beginning Account Balances as of December 1,xxxx
Assets Liabilities Equity
Cash5,500Accounts Payable(2,000)Owner's Capital(7,500)
Accounts Receivable1,600Mowing Revenues(1,000)
Mowing Equipment2,500Advertising Expense200
Mulch Expense100
Owner Draws600
Note: Credit Balances are indicated using parentheses ()
ABC Transactions for December xxxx
1. December 2, xxxx ABC mows a client’s yard and receives a check # 484 from the customer for $50 for the service provided.

Journal Entry 1 GJ-1-1

2. December 4, xxxx ABC purchases $100 worth of office supplies for inventory and stores them in their storage room. The office supply store gives them an invoice # 983 that allows them to pay for them in 15 days (on account).

Journal Entry 2 GJ-1-2

3. December 8, xxxx ABC places an ad in the local newspaper receives the invoice from the supplier # 555 and writes a check # 900 for $25 to the newspaper.

Journal Entry 3 GJ 1-3

4. December 10, xxxx ABC purchases five mowers for $10,000 and finances them with a note from the local bank.

Journal Entry 4 GJ 1-4

5. December 15, xxxx ABC mows another customer’s yard and sends the customer a bill (invoice # 1000) for $75 for the service they performed. They allow their customer 10 days to pay them for this service (on account).

Journal Entry 5 GJ 1-5

6. December 20, xxxx the owner of ABC needs a little money to pay some personal bills and writes himself a check # 901 for $500.

Journal Entry 6 GJ 1-6

7. December 22, xxxx ABC pays the office supply company $100 with a check # 902 for the office supplies that they charged (promised to pay).

Journal Entry 7 GJ 1-7

8. December 27, xxxx ABC receives a check # 55 from the customer who they billed (invoiced) $75 for services and allowed 10 days to pay.

Journal Entry 8 GJ 1-8

9. December 29, xxxx ABC purchased some mulch for $60 and received an invoice # 777 from their supplier who allows them 15 days to pay. The mulch was used on a customer’s yard.

Journal Entry 9 GJ 1-9

10. December 31, xxxx ABC bills (prepares an invoice # 1001) the customer $80 for the mulch and mowing his yard and receives a check for $80 from the customer.

Journal Entry 10 GJ 1-10

ABC's General Journal
General Journal Page 1
Entry NumberDateAccount NamePost Ref.DebitCredit
GJ-1-1Dec 2,xxxxCash10050

 Mowing Revenue400
Record Customer Check # 484 and revenue from mowing job
GJ-1-2Dec 4,xxxxInventory-Office Supplies115100

 Accounts Payable200
Record Invoice # 983 for office supplies purchased on account
GJ-1-3Dec 8,xxxxAdvertising Expense51025

Record Check # 900 for advertising services
GJ-1-4Dec 10,xxxxMowing Equipment15010000

 Note Payable-Bank210
Record purchase of mowing equipment financed by bank note
GJ-1-5Dec 15,xxxxAccounts Receivable11075

 Mowing Revenue400
Record Invoice # 1000 on account to customer for revenue earned mowing yard
GJ-1-6Dec 20,xxxxOwner's Draw310500

Record owner's draw Check # 901
GJ-1-7Dec 22,xxxxAccounts Payable200100

Record Check #902 paid to supplier for office supplies charged on account (Invoice # 983)
GJ-1-8Dec 27,xxxxCash10075

 Accounts Receivable110
Record Customer's Check # 55 received from customer on account
GJ--1-9Dec 29,xxxxMulch Expense52060

 Accounts Payable200
Record Invoice # 777 with credit terms for purchase of mulch
GJ-1-10Dec 31,xxxxCash10080

Mowing Revenue400
Record Check # 555 received from customer paying our Invoice # 1001 for mowing services
ABC's General Ledger
Account Name: CashAccount Number: 100
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 2
Dec 8
Dec 20
Dec 22
Dec 27
Dec 31
Account Name: Accounts ReceivableAccount Number: 110
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 15
Dec 27
Account Name: Inventory-Office SuppliesAccount Number: 115
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 4
Account Name: Mowing EquipmentAccount Number: 150
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 10
Account Name: Accounts PayableAccount Number: 200
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 4
Dec 22
Dec 29
Account Name: Note Payable-BankAccount Number: 210
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 10
Account Name: Owner's CapitalAccount Number: 300
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Account Name: Owner's DrawsAccount Number: 310
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 20
Account Name: Mowing RevenueAccount Number: 400
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 2
Dec 15

Dec 31

Account Name: Advertising ExpenseAccount Number: 510
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 8
Account Name: Mulch ExpenseAccount Number: 520
DateDescriptionPost Ref.DebitCreditBalance
Dec 1Beg Bal.

Dec 29
So you know !
There are various symbols that are used to indicate Debits and Credits and whether an account’s balance is a Debit or a Credit. Ways and symbols you might run across are:

Dr for Debit and Cr for Credit
+ (Plus Sign) for Debit and – (Minus Sign) for Credit
No Bracket for Debit and  <  > (Brackets) for Credit
No Parentheses for Debit and ( ) (Parentheses) for Credit

Note : The plus (+) and minus (sign) are often used by accounting and bookkeeping programs to indicate debits and credits. Don’t get confused and think that the plus sign means an increase or that the minus sign means a decrease. They do not . In this case, they are simply symbols that mean either a debit or a credit.

In this Lesson, we illustrated the recording of ABC's transactions in the General Journal and the posting -transferring the balances to the the General Ledger Accounts.

You have now been introduced to some of bookkeeping and accounting’s formal records, namely the General Ledger and General Journal. You could get by with just these two records, but if your business like most has many transactions instead of the few that ABC had you’d be spending a heck of a lot of time recording and posting.

In this course the only Journal we'll use is the General Journal.

While you could record all your transactions just using this journal,  bookkeeping has a better solution.

What’s the solution to streamlining the recording and posting processes.

Special Journals are the solution.

Instead of using just one journal to record all our business transactions we use many. Although this tutorial is not going to discuss the Special Journals in detail, I wanted to make you aware of them and the purpose they serve and the types of transactions recorded using them.

Some Special Journals a business will normally have are:

  • Cash Receipts Journal
  • Cash Disbursements Journal (Check Register)
  • Payroll Journal
  • Sales Journal
  • Purchase Journal
  • General Journal

All these journals are designed to record special types of business transactions and post the totals accumulated in these journals to the General Ledger periodically (usually once a month) using a manual system.

For a quick peak at Special Journals

Sorry, no Lesson can be tossed aside so let's learn about
the Trial Balance
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