What is a journal?

Definition of a Journal
In accounting and bookkeeping, a journal is a record of financial transactions in order by date. Traditionally, a journal has been defined as the book of original entry. The definition was more appropriate when transactions were written in a journal prior to manually posting them to the accounts in the general ledger or subsidiary ledger.

Examples of Journals in a Manual Accounting System
Manual systems usually had a variety of journals such as a sales journal, purchases journal, cash receipts journal, cash disbursements journal, and a general journal.

Computerized Accounting Systems
With today's computerized accounting systems, the recording and posting of most transactions will occur automatically when sales and vendor invoice information is entered, checks are written, etc. In other words, accounting software has eliminated the need to first record routine transactions into a journal. However, even with computerized accounting systems it is necessary to have a general journal in which adjusting entries and unique financial transactions are recorded.

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