Many bookkeepers today are not familiar with bookkeeping forms. Software has all but eliminated the need for these in most businesses because it has helped to speed up the process of data entry and reporting. Instead of having to record information on more than one form, one entry is made and the software records it wherever else it needs to go.
If you are really serious about being a bookkeeper and understanding the entire bookkeeping process, then you should definitely acquire a solid understanding of bookkeeping forms, especially those in the General Ledger, Journals and Subsidiary Ledgers. Learning what each of them is for and how information is entered and used between them will strengthen your grasp of bookkeeping.
Here is a quick overview of the three main kinds of bookkeeping forms you will use in business.
1. General Ledger
3. Subsidiary Ledger
The first kind of bookkeeping forms is found in the General Ledger. It is a book similar to a three ring binder with removable pages. It has tabs to separate the different types of accounts much like a student will have tabs in their binder to keep their individual subjects separate and easy to find. The size of the General Ledger and the number of pages it contains depends upon the size of the business.
There is only one General Ledger in a business. It is used to give a general idea of how the business is doing. Its numbers are used to create the balance sheet and profit and loss (earnings) statement.
Each page of the General Ledger has a Debit and Credit column and a Balance column. There is also a Reference (Ref) column to record which journal each entry comes from. There is one page for each General Ledger Account which means there is a page for each account in the chart of accounts. For example, there will be a page for Office Expense and another for Auto Expense. If a business has more than one type of sales account it will have a separate page for each sales account.
The second of the bookkeeping forms is a journal. A Journal is a breakdown of the information found in the General Ledger. A journal is updated on a daily basis and the different pages are totaled at the end of each month for each account. These totals are then transferred to the General Ledger to give an overall or general picture of the business finances.
Each page of a journal has a side for debits and a side for credits. Normally the first column of each page is for the date. The other columns on each side are blank and are meant to be customized to suit the needs of each business and that particular journal.
A much more detailed recording of what is in the General Ledger is found in the third kind of the bookkeeping forms which is the Subsidiary Ledger. It will tell you much more detail about the information found in the Journals and General Ledger. For example, you may keep a list of customers who owe you money. The information about each of these customers and what they owe will be found in a Subsidiary Ledger. One page or card will be dedicated to the individual transactions of a particular customer, giving their name, address and other contact information as well as their account number. The same is true for Payroll. You will have a separate page for each employee. The Subsidiary Ledgers allow you to find specific information about each of your customers, employees and vendors.
So, let’s say that on Monday you receive invoices from three of your suppliers. You record each of these invoices in the Purchase Journal. Each are recorded by date on an individual line on that particular form. But, if you want to know how much you owe one particular supplier to date, you will not be able to quickly determine this from looking at that Journal, because it only gives the total for all vendors together. This is where the Subsidiary Ledger form comes into play. Because you have also recorded the invoices and payments to your suppliers on the particular pages for that vendor, you will know in a moment what your current balance is.
Now, let’s list the different kinds of journals a business uses. Keep in mind that some of these can be combined depending on the business.
1. Cash Disbursements
1. Purchase - for making purchases on credit (accounts payable)
3. Disbursements - for recording payments to accounts payable
4. Sales – records sales and costs of sales and sales made on credit (accounts receivable)
5. Cash Receipts
7. Standard Entries
And finally, the different kinds of Subsidiary Ledgers are for…1. Accounts Receivable