General Journal

General Journal

What is a General Journal?

Definition: A general journal is a record of accounting entries. When a business carries out a financial transaction, it is necessary to make a journal entry. This entry may be made either in the general journal or in a special journal.

Special journals are usually maintained for Sales, Cash Receipts, Purchases, and Cash Disbursements. The transactions that pertain to other accounts are made in the general journal.

What does General Journal mean?

An entry in the general journal will record a transaction in a specific format. The first column will mention the date of the entry. The account being debited will find a place on the right-hand side of the date column. Below this, the account being credited will be mentioned. A brief description of the transaction will follow.

The next column is reserved for the posting reference (PR). This will be completed when the entries are posted to the ledger. The remaining columns are reserved for the dollar amounts of the transaction. Remember that the figure in the debit column will always be equal to the amount in the credit column.

Here’s a summary of what a general journal will look like:

⇨ Column 1 – date

⇨ Column 2 – account being debited. Below this, the account that is being credited will appear. A brief description of the transaction will follow.

⇨ Column 3 – posting reference (PR) – to be entered later.

⇨ Column 4 – debit column.

⇨ Column 5 – credit column.

Example of General Journal

Dixon Industries records an entry for depreciation on machinery in its general journal:

General Journal







The general journal is a chronological record of a company’s financial transactions. Every transaction will find a place either in the general journal or in a special journal.

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