General Journal vs General Ledger

The key difference between General Journal and General Ledger is that general journal is the journal of the company in which initial record keeping of all the transaction is done which are not recorded in any of the specialty journal maintained by the company like purchase journal, sales journal, cash journal etc, whereas, general ledger prepared by the company is the set of the different master accounts in which the transactions of the business are recorded from the related subsidiary ledgers.

Differences Between General Journal and Ledger

In the world of finance, accountancy is one stickler field in which all the norms and laws require to be followed both in spirit and text. The main financial statements include an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. To compile the financial statements of a business entity, there are numerous stages of measuring, recording, and presenting the reconciled form of every business transaction. Now, the starting point of all of this process is at recording the business transactions in the general journal.

What is a General Journal?

The general journalGeneral JournalThe General Journal is a book of entry that holds the initial record of every transaction before being posted to the concerned accounts like Sales Journal, Purchase Journal, & Cash Journal etc. read more is one of the books of accounts that records every business transaction relating to all the accounting items like sales, inventory, accounts receivables, accounts payables, adjustment entries, etc. in chronological order. It is the entry point for any kind of business transaction to make its way into the books of accounts of the company before it flows to the next level of classification of transactions in accountancy. It must be noted that there is a concept of duality in accounts that results in a double-entry accounting systemDouble-entry Accounting SystemDouble Entry Accounting System is an accounting approach which states that each & every business transaction is recorded in at least 2 accounts, i.e., a Debit & a Credit. Furthermore, the number of transactions entered as the debits must be equivalent to that of the credits. read more. Hence, every business transaction is recorded in such a way that it affects two accounts in terms of credit and debit entry.

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What is General Ledger?

Once a transaction is posted into a general journal, the next step is to classify the transactions based on the accounts which they affect. So general ledger is one more book of accounts that records the transaction, after being posted into a general journal, based on the type of account affected by the transaction in terms of credit and debit.

General Journal vs. General Ledger Infographics

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Key Difference Between General Journal and Ledger

The main difference between them is that the general journal serves as the original book of entry. Both of these books of accounts provide a way to record business transactions through the double-entry accounting system via debits and credits.

Comparative Table

BasisGeneral JournalGeneral Ledger
DefinitionIt refers to the book of accounts that record every business transaction in chronological order.It refers to the book of accounts which contains the entries, classified based on affected account types, after being first posted into a general journal and then finally making its way into a general ledger.
Entry PointIt is the first point of entry of any kind of business transaction to make it to the company’s book of accounts.It is the second point of entry in accountancy for recording a transaction after it enters the accounting system through a general journal.
Entry BasisEvery entry is recorded based on chronological order.Every entry is recorded based on affected account types.
Accountancy SystemIt follows the concept of duality, i.e., every transaction recorded under the double-entry accounting system.It also follows the concept of duality, i.e., every transaction recorded under the double entry accounting system.
ExampleDate: December 31, 2018
Debit to Depreciation Expense for $1,000
Credit to Accumulated DepreciationAccumulated DepreciationThe accumulated depreciation of an asset is the amount of cumulative depreciation charged on the asset from its purchase date until the reporting date. It is a contra-account, the difference between the asset's purchase price and its carrying value on the balance sheet.read more for $1,000
Depreciation Expense: Debited as of December 31, 2018, for $1,000
Accumulated Depreciation: Credited as of December 31, 2018, for $1,000

Applications

With the abundance of technological advancements in the fields of software, there are numerous accounting solutions provided by many technology giants like Oracle Suite, Tally, etc. Most of such software products offer a centralized repository to log entries into journals and ledger. Due to such accountancy software products, recording transactions have become far easier. There is no need to maintain all the books separately and reconcile manually as this software help in automating such redundant manual tasks. Also, the user interface is designed in such a manner that the user entering the humungous volume of business transactionsBusiness TransactionsA business transaction is the exchange of goods or services for cash with third parties (such as customers, vendors, etc.). The goods involved have monetary and tangible economic value, which may be recorded and presented in the company's financial statements.read more do not have to really care about the central repository and the background processing to reconcile the entries that finally make it to the financial statements.

Conclusion

The general journal is a catch-all book of accounts where initial entry of the business transaction is recorded for the first time, in chronological order, making general journal an excellent place to review accounting transactions. The General ledgerGeneral LedgerA general ledger is a book of accounts that records the everyday business transactions in separate ledger accounts. The entries made in a ledger can be verified by getting a NIL balance on summing up all the ledger account amounts in the trial balance.read more is more of a summary at the account level of every business transaction, which comes from various journals containing chronological accounting entries. This information entered into the journal and summarised into the ledger is then aggregated further into a trial balance, which is used to generate the financial statements of the businessFinancial Statements Of The BusinessFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all levels.read more entity.

The use of journals has been on a steep decline with the increasing use of automated accounting systems. Most of the accounting systems allow the user to information directly into the general ledger and skipping the need to make journal entries. So, the need for the journal may have been getting more and more obsolete in the computerized environment but it still holds great importance in the world of bookkeepingBookkeepingBookkeeping is the day to day recording of financial transactions such as purchases, sales, receipts, and payments, and it is the first step in the accounting process. It can be prepared in two ways: single-entry and double-entry; however, the double-entry approach is more widely used and recognized in most countries.read more.

This has been a guide to the General Journal vs. General Ledger. Here we discuss the top differences between general ledger vs. general journal along with its applications, infographics, and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles –