How to Create General Journals in Accounting

by Jenny Holland; Updated September 26, 2017
General journals are available at your local office supply store with the columns already imprinted.

General journal entries in accounting are records in chronological order of business transactions with the details of the accounts that are affected by each transaction. The transactions are recorded by debits and credits to the accounts. When one account is debited, another is credited; for this reason, debits and credits will always be equal to one another in a single transaction.

Step 1

Gather records of business transactions, such as receipts, bills, bank statements and invoices, and organize the records in chronological order.

Step 2

Write the headings “Date,” “Accounts,” “Debits” and “Credits” across the first line in the order given, creating columns.

Step 3

Write the first entry for the year. Write the date of the transaction under the heading “Date” then write the account affected by the transaction under the heading “Accounts.” For example, if the business received a utility bill that is not yet paid, write “Utility Expenses” under Accounts.

Step 4

Debit the amount of the transaction to the noted account by writing the amount under the heading “Debit” on the line across from the listed account.

Step 5

Write the title of the next account that is affected by the same transaction in the line under the first listed account. In the case of a bill received but not yet paid, the secondary account that is affected is “Accounts Payable” because the business now owes this amount.

Step 6

Credit the account for the same amount the other account was debited by writing the amount under the heading “Credit” and across from the account listed that you are crediting. Note that some transactions require the crediting of more than one account. For example, for a purchase made under the terms of a down payment paid by cash and the rest owed, the purchase is the first account affected, and the amount is debited. The next account affected is the company’s cash account. Credit the cash account for the amount of cash paid. The third account affected is accounts payable; credit this account the remaining balance amount which is now owed. Both the cash account and accounts payable account should equal the purchase price.

Step 7

Write the description of the transaction in the third line under the heading “Accounts.” In the example given, the “Accounts” column would have “Utility Expenses,” “Accounts Payable” and the description as “Electricity Bill Received.” Write your next transaction in the same manner listed above.

Tips

  • The credit must always be equal to the debit. Always lead each transaction with a debit.

About the Author

Jenny Holland has been writing since 2007. Her experience includes writing promotional and training materials for a small business. She enjoys writing about business, marketing, parenting, crafts and law. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in small business entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Science in business, both awarded from the City University of New York.

Photo Credits

  • binder pad accounts image by Nicemonkey from Fotolia.com