In financial accounting, a journal is a register that chronologically records all the transactions of a business which occur within a specific accounting period. The business transactions are recorded chronologically in a journal and each “entry” has a short description in addition to date, amounts, etc. A record of a single transaction in a journal is called journal entry.
A journal is a significant component of the accounting cycle. All business transactions are initially recorded in the form of journal entries in the journal. From there, the figures then move to ledgers and trial balance.
Traditionally, journals were physical registers with columns such as date of transactions, the account head being debited or credited, the amount debited, the amount credited etc. However, these days, accounting is performed over computers mostly with the help of specialized software.
These software applications greatly simplify the accounting process and as soon as the transaction is entered in the form of a journal entry, it is instantly reflected in journal, ledgers and trial balance. This means that the accountant does not need to worry much about how figures move from journal entries to journals and subsequent documents. However the use of journal continues to be taught to accounting students because it helps build conceptual understanding.
There are two types of accounting journals:
General Journal can be used to record any type of financial transaction. If a business is involved in relatively small number of transactions each day, it can cover all of them in just a single accounting journal without any complexity.
Specialized Journals are used by larger businesses which are involved in numerous transactions each day. Recording all those transactions in just a single journal will make things too complex. Therefore all the transactions of sales are recorded in sales journal, those of purchases are recorded in purchases journal and receipts and payments of cash are recorded in cash journal etc.
Therefore, following are some of commonly used specialized journals:
- Cash Journal
- Sales Journal
- Purchases Journal
by Irfanullah Jan, ACCA and last modified on