On Journals And Ledgers

It’s been an incredibly busy month here on Accounting for Everyone, with many wonderful new comments on the various weeks course material.

It took me many years to really understand double-entry. I did it by reading all the books I could get my hands on, and talking to thousands of business owners, oh, and the odd accountant here and there 😉

There are so many idiosyncrasies in the jargon of double-entry bookkeeping, and of course different countries are bound to use slightly different terms for the same thing. Let’s take a look at a couple of those.

The Journal

This is a great one. Journal = book = diary = log. I.e. a place to write something down. That’s all. But it used most commonly to describe a specific type of transaction. That is where the confusion comes in. There are no ‘special’ transactions. In just the same way there are no special accounts. All a transaction does is move money around. Period. So a transaction consists of a number of ‘entries’. Each entry affects one account. If an accountant or trained bookkeeper needs to make some correction, they say ‘just journal it’ (or something similar). This raises the ‘journal’ on a pedestal to some new height, but it is not like that. In short, you can ‘journalise’ everything and anything.

It is really understanding terms like this that will make you confident in bookkeeping, and that of course is where my bookkeeping course really hits the target (according to all the comments).

Nominal Ledger

Another great one. In the UK we call it the ‘nominal’ ledger. Everywhere else it is called the ‘general’ ledger. What does it mean? Nothing. A ledger is where you place your accounts. That is all any ledger is. If you group all your customer accounts into one place, then you could name it your ‘Sales  Ledger’. If you are in the US you may want to call it ‘Accounts Receivable’. Whatever you want to label it, they are all the same. A place to store accounts and look up their balances.

There are of course a number of different alternative names used around the world, but the most fundamental are covered in the course. What is important is that whatever something may be called, it does not differ in terms of how it is used in accounting and bookkeeping.

Quentin Pain

Quentin Pain helps people thinking of starting a business and those already in business achieve success via his marketing company ProofMEDIA. He's also the creator of Accounting for Everyone, a published author. and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Visit ProofMEDIA.uk to find out more.

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