Cambridge IGCSE Accounting(0452)/O Level Principles of Accounts(7110) Notes: The General Journal

As already said there are several books of Prime Entry namely:

  • ┬áThe Sales Day Book
  • The Purchases Day Book
  • The Returns Inwards Day Book
  • The Returns Outwards Day Book.
  • The Cash Book


  • Each of these books is devoted to a particular type of transaction. For example all Purchases returns are recorded in the Returns Outwards Day Book.
  • There are, however, other types of transactions which do not pass through these books.
  • These transactions are much rarer in businesses when compared to those transactions which are recorded in the above books.
  • These transactions are recorded in the Journal.
  • The Journal is also known as the General Journal or Journal Proper.
  • This book acts as a diary for all these other transactions before they are transferred to the General Ledger.
  • For each transaction the following are recorded:
  1. The date
  2. The name of account(s) to be debited and the amount(s)
  3. The name of the account(s) to be credited and the amount(s)
  4. A description and explanation of the transaction (this is called a narrative)
  5. A folio reference to the source documents giving proof of the transaction.
  • Using a journal prevents fraud and errors.

Uses of the Journal

  • Some of the main uses of the Journal are listed below:

1 The purchase and sale of fixed assets on credit.
2 Writing off bad debts.
3 The correction of errors in the ledger accounts.
4 Opening entries. These are the entries needed to open a new set of books.
5 Adjustments to any of the entries in the ledgers.

NB This is not an exhaustive list.

The layout of a journal

The layout of a journal. Image credit Frank Wood's Business Accounting 1.

The layout of a journal. Image credit Frank Wood’s Business Accounting 1.

  • The first line records the account to be debited.
  • The second line records the account to be debited.
  • The final line provides a summary of the transaction and what transpired.
  • The journal is not part of the double entry system but rather acts as a diary.
  • Once an entry has been made it is recorded into the relevant accounts in the General Ledger.

To access more topics go to the Principles of Accounts Notes page.