Accounting Unplugged

Accounting Journals and Ledgers – Transaction Posting

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The process of gathering and storing Financial Transaction data in the Accounting System is accomplished through the use of both:

  • Ledgers: which maintain Account Balances
  • Journals: which maintain the line by line detail of each Transaction.


I’m starting with Ledgers because we’ve gone through the basic organization of the Accounting System from Double Entry (debit/credit) Transaction Posting, to the Chart of Accounts and finally the General Ledger. I’ll stay on the topic of the General Ledger first and then back up to the Journals where each transaction is originally posted.

In Accounting, there are two types of ledgers, the General Ledger (Book of final entry) and Subsidiary (Sub) Ledgers. The Accounts for the General Ledger come from the Chart of Accounts. The Accounts for the Subledgers depend on the specific purpose of the Subledger.

If you remember in the “Chart of Accounts – Basics”, I said that Accounts should only be created to describe types of things not individual things themselves. Well, in some cases especially in the case of cash substitutes like Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable more detail is required. So, to maintain the summary nature of the Chart of Accounts/General Ledger and to provide more detail, Subsidiary (Sub) Ledgers were developed.

Everything that is posted into Subledgers is also posted into the General Ledger and they act together to provide progressive levels of detail/summary.

The two most common Subledgers are:

  • The Accounts Payable Subledger: which maintains a list of Vendors (or creditors) and their individual Account Balances. Each individual Vendor represents a Subledger (Accounts Payable – Vendor) Account.
  • The Accounts Receivable Subledger: which maintains a list of Customers and their individual Account Balances. Each individual Customer represents a Subledger (Accounts Receivable – Customer) Account.

—more on Subledgers and Journals—>>

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**disclaimer: All information posted on this blog is from my own experience and training. The guidelines I present are general and in my experience, standard practice. I do not write with authority from any Accounting Standards Boards.