Special journals

Special Journals are designed to facilitate the process of journalizing and posting transactions. They are used for the most frequent transactions in a business. For example, in merchandising businesses, companies acquire merchandise from vendors, and then in turn sell the merchandise to individuals or other businesses. Sales and purchases are the most common transactions for the merchandising businesses. A business such as a retail store will record the following transactions many times a day for sales on account and cash sales.

Description Debit Credit
Accounts Receivable XXX
Sales XXX
Sales Tax Payable XXX
Description Debit Credit
Cash XXX
Sales XXX
Sales Tax Payable XXX

In order to save time for journalizing the entries, and posting the entries to the general ledgers and subledgers, Special Journals are used instead. An accountant can be specialized in a type of journal entry and several accountants can work each on 1 or more different types of journal entries only thereby using a better division of labour.

Types of Special Journals

The types of Special Journals that a business uses are determined by the nature of the business. Special journals are designed as a simple way to record the most frequently occurring transactions. There are four types of Special Journals that are frequently used by merchandising businesses: Sales journals, Cash receipts journals, Purchases journals, and Cash payments journals.

Sales journal

Main article: Sales journal

Sales journals record transactions that involve sales on credit.[1] Source documents here would probably be invoices. Provides a chronological record of all credit sales made in the life of a business. Credit sales are transactions where the goods are sold and payment is received at a later date. The source documents for the Sales journal are copies of all invoices given to the debtors.

Double entry Accounting is achieved by:

Choose credit sales journal if this stock is then on-sold to customers who will pay later. The people/organizations here are known as debtors. Collectively, all these accounts that are to be paid to us by our customers are known as assets.

date details folio # invoice # amount
date sale was made who did you sell it to sequential - #order

Cash receipts journal

A cash receipts journal (CRJ) records transactions that involve payments received with cash.[1] Source documents would probably be receipts and cheque butts. The CRJ records the cash inflow of a business. Discount allowed is an expense as the discount allowed is the cost to the seller of obtaining an inflow of cash from a debtor weeks earlier than would be the case.

date details receipt # discount allowed sales debtors Other BANK
date sale was made who you received payment from people who are also in sales journal other types of income description amount into bank

Expense journals

Purchases Journal

Purchases Journals record transactions that involve purchases on credit.[2] Source documents are invoices. For instance, the purchase of inventory on credit is recorded in the purchases journal.

date details folio #33 invoice # amount
date sale was made name of supplier not sequential

Cash Payments Journal

Cash Payments Journals record transactions that involve expenditures paid with cash.[3] Source documents are likely receipts and cheque butts. The CPJ records the cash outflow of a business. If the owner of a business withdraws cash from the business an entry is made in the CPJ. Discount received is the cash discount received by a purchaser, it is an income item for the purchaser.

date details cheque # discount received purchases creditors Other BANK
date payment was made who you paid people who are also in purchases journal other types of expenses description amount out of bank

Source documents

When a transaction occur between a business and an external party, a source document will usually be created.[4] Source documents are business forms that provide evidence of each transaction and give the details that are entered later into one of the journals in a computer accounting system. Some computer systems, such as payroll systems, also generate transactions that are recorded in one or more journals, but without paper source documents.

Folio Number: Every page of a journal is numbered. This number is known as a folio number.[5] The folio number is used as a cross reference between the journal and the ledger accounts. The use of folio numbers makes it easy to refer back from the ledger account to the journal entry or forward from the journal entry to the ledger account. In addition, folio numbers are a check that all journal entries have been recorded in the ledger system.

Each ledger account has a folio number column. The name and page of the journal from which the ledger entry came is recorded in the folio number column.

Each journal has a folio number column. The number of the ledger account to which the journal entry was posted is recorded in the folio number column of the journal.

Cash money, eftpos, cheques, credit cards. Receipts and payments.

Credit sale of inventory on credit Purchases.

Cash Journals record items sold or purchased with cash and they also record income received (debtor payment, interest) and daily expenses. If the transaction is of a cash nature, you must be convinced that money/cheque/credit card was also exchanged at the time that the good or service was exchanged.

Credit Journals record purchases or sales on credit. If the transaction is of a credit nature, you will assume that the cash will be exchanged after the exchange of the good or service. At this stage, these will only be concerned with your firm acquiring stock and the selling of that stock to customers who will pay later.

Format of Special Journals

In the General Journal, transactions are recorded in several lines (see Figure 1), and each transaction is posted to the general ledger separately. For example, if fifty sales on account were made during one day, fifty ledger postings would have to be made to three general ledger accounts: Accounts Receivable, Sales, and Sale Tax Payable. In special journal, transactions are recorded in a single line, and the format of the journal made it possible to post only the total amount for each account to the general ledger. For example, if fifty sales on account were made during one day, only the total amount for Accounts Receivable, Sales, and Sales Tax Payable were posted to the general ledger. Thus the posting process is more efficient. Figure 2 shows the example formats of the Special Journals.


Date Sale No. To Whom Sold Post. Ref. Accounts Receivable Debit Sales Credit Sales Tax Payable Credit
April 1 900 A. Smith $1,000.00 $940.00 $60.00
April 1 901 B. Johnson $2,000.00 $1,880.00 $120.00
April 1 902 C. Chang $1,000.00 $940.00 $60.00
April 4 904 D. Garcia $1,000.00 $940.00 $60.00


Date Account Credited Post Ref. General Credit Accounts Receivable Credit Sales Credit Sales Tax Payable Credit Cash Debit
May 1 B. Johnson $1,000 $1,000
May 3 C. Chang $1,000 $1,000
May 5 A. Smith $1,000 $1,000
May 8 Interest Receivable $400 $400


Date Invoice No. From Whom Purchased Post Ref. Purchased Debit / Accounts Payable Credit
June 2 6321 BCD Corp. $12,000
June 5 12D Telecom8 Inc $800
June 21 412 Furniture-X $2,000


Date Check No. Account Debited Post Ref. General Debit Accounts Payable Debit Purchases Credit Cash Credit
July 1 1254 Rent Expense $1,200 $1,200
July 2 1255 BCD Corp. $1,200 $1,200
July 2 1256 Furniture-X $1,200 $1,200


  1. 1 2 Jerry J. Weygandt; Paul D. Kimmel; Donald E. Kieso (5 January 2010). Accounting Principles. John Wiley and Sons. p. 608. ISBN 978-0-470-57725-7. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  2. Wallace W. Kravitz (1 September 1999). Bookkeeping the Easy Way. Barron's Educational Series. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-0-7641-1079-5. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  3. Claudia B. Gilbertson; Mark W. Lehman (12 March 2008). Fundamentals of Accounting: Course 1. Cengage Learning. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-538-44826-0. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  4. Jan Bebbington; Rob Gray; Richard Laughlin (16 August 2001). Financial accounting: practice and principles. Cengage Learning EMEA. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-86152-771-4. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  5. world of working accounting. Pearson South Africa. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7986-6147-8. Retrieved 6 April 2012.

Heintz, James A. and Parry, Robert W. Jr. (2008). College Accounting (19th Edition) P440-459. Thomson South-Western. ISBN 978-0-324-37616-6

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