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What is a special journal?

Special journal meaning: A special journal (also known as a specialized journal) is useful in a manual accounting or bookkeeping system to reduce the tedious task of recording both the debit and credit general ledger account names and amounts in a general journal.

For example, one special journal is the sales journal which is used exclusively for a company’s sales of merchandise to customers that are allowed to pay at a future date. The sales journal will have only one column in which to enter the amount of each sales invoice. At the end of the month the total of the column is debited to Accounts Receivable and credited to Sales. Throughout the month, the individual sales invoices will be posted to each customer’s record found in the company’s subsidiary ledger for Accounts Receivable.

The benefits of using a special journal instead of the general journal for the repetitive transactions have been eliminated with today’s inexpensive yet powerful accounting software. For example, when a sales invoice is prepared by using accounting software, both the general ledger and subsidiary accounts will be updated instantly and accurately.

Special journal examples: The following are examples of special journals that are more efficient than recording transactions in the general journal used in a manual accounting system:

  • Cash disbursement journal for recording checks written.
  • Cash receipts journal for recording money received.
  • Sales journal for recording sales on credit. (Cash sales are recorded in the cash receipts journal.)
  • Purchases journal for recording purchases on credit of goods to be resold. (Cash purchases are recorded in the cash disbursement journal. Purchases of items such as equipment are recorded in the general journal.)