Special Journals

Special Journals (also known as subsidiary journals) are chronological records of frequently occurring transactions such as sales, purchases and cash receipts/payments.

Repetitive transactions such as sales and purchases are recorded in special journals and the totals of these journals are transferred to general ledger on a regular basis such as daily, weekly or monthly as if a single transaction has occurred in this interval.

Special journals mostly deal with subsidiary accounts but this is not a rule. For example, sales journal is typically used to record credit sales and the accounts involved are individual debtors’ accounts (these are subsidiary accounts) and sales account which a general ledger account.

Businesses may need to record countless sales transactions per day. Recording all such transaction directly in general journal would be extremely time consuming and error prone. It is much easier and simple to summarize all sales transactions during a week, for example, and transfer the total amount to general records.


Special journals are in the form of a table of numerous rows and multiple columns. Each transaction takes a single row. The names of columns vary based on the type of transaction in a special journal.


Examples of special journals which are commonly used are:

  1. sales journal
  2. sales returns journal
  3. purchases journal
  4. purchase returns journal
  5. cash receipts journal
  6. cash payments journal

by Irfanullah Jan, ACCA and last modified on

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