Specialized Journals

In accounting, business transactions must be entered regularly into the accounting records. The place where the original entry is made is called a General Journal. This is the catch-all for transactions that don’t necessitate entry in specialized journals. In large companies, where there might be thousands of transactions, specialized journals are a necessity.

Specialized journals are used to record repetitive transactions. Furthermore, businesses use subsidiary accounts. “Transactions are first recorded into a specialized or the general journal; then they are posted to a ledger account (usually a control account) periodically, and finally, if appropriate, they are posted to a subsidiary account daily” (Berry, Leonard Eugene. Financial accounting Demystified. USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2011. p. 74).

Four Specialized Journals

  • Sales Journal
A simple sales journal format includes the date, invoice number, customer name, reference and the amount A/R dr. sales cr..
  • Purchases Journal
A purchases journal format contains the date, invoice number, vendor name, reference. Dr. inventory purchases, Dr. supplies, Dr. equipment, Cr. accounts payable. An Accounts Payable Control account is created along with a subsidiary ledger for each individual vendor’s account.
  • Cash Receipts Journal
A cash receipts journal format consists of the date, customer name, reference, Dr. cash received, Dr. sales discounts, Cr. A/R, Cr. sales. Only cash receipts are recorded here.
  • Cash Disbursements Journal
A cash disbursements journal  includes the date, check number, reference, Dr. account name, Dr. accounts payable, Cr. purchases discount, Cr. cash.
It is critical that the information entered in the specialized journals is also entered into each customer’s subsidiary account daily. Periodically, at least by the end of the accounting period, transactions must also be posted to the respective general ledger accounts.