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What is a general ledger account?

A general ledger account is an account or record used to sort and store balance sheet and income statement transactions. Examples of general ledger accounts include the asset accounts such as Cash, Accounts Receivable, Inventory, Investments, Land, and Equipment. Examples of the general ledger liability accounts include Notes Payable, Accounts Payable, Accrued Expenses Payable, and Customer Deposits. Examples of income statement accounts found in the general ledger include Sales, Service Fee Revenues, Salaries Expense, Rent Expense, Advertising Expense, Interest Expense, and Loss on Disposal of Assets.

Some general ledger accounts are summary records which are referred to as control accounts. The detail that supports each of the control accounts will be found outside of the general ledger in what is known as a subsidiary ledger. For example, Accounts Receivable could be a control account in the general ledger, and there will be a subsidiary ledger which contains each customer's credit activity. The general ledger accounts Inventory, Equipment, and Accounts Payable could also be control accounts and for each there will be a subsidiary ledger containing the supporting detail.

A listing of a company's general ledger accounts is found in its Chart of Accounts.