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What Is a Sales Journal?

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  • Written By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In business accounting, sales journals are specialty journals that accountants or bookkeepers use to record the sales of merchandise on account. Bookkeeping software frequently automatically enters the transaction into the general ledger and into a journal for sales on an account if a person has set one up. An accountant or bookkeeper posts the entries from the sales journal to the general ledger, but not to the general journal. This is one of the journal's greatest advantages because a person can quickly locate all of the business's sales on an account.

The accountant or bookkeeper sets up the journal with separate columns for accounts receivable, sales credit, and sales tax payable. Other important columns are date, sales number, and to whom sold. Some office supply companies sell sales journals. Usually, a person who is proficient in computer programs can write one in a spreadsheet program.

Here is an example of how accountants or bookkeepers use sales journals. The accountant or bookkeeper enters the date, sales number, and the customer's name in the appropriate columns. In the accounts receivable column, she enters the total amount receivable from the customer. The total amount minus the sales tax goes in the sales credit column, and the sales tax goes in the sales tax payable column. When the accountant or bookkeeper posts the entry to the general ledger — usually at the end of the month — she will put a check mark in the post. ref. column.

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There are many different types of special journals that are similar to the sales journal. Each specialty journal records only one type of transaction. Some examples of these practical journals are the cash receipts journal, the cash payments journal, and the purchases journal. Sometimes accountants or bookkeepers enter the same transaction in more than one book, such as entering an entry from the sales journal into the general ledger and the accounts receivable ledger.

The sales journal documents only the sales that a customer makes on credit. For this simplified sales journaling, there is no need for the debit and credit columns because every entry debits the accounts receivable account and credits sales income. An accountant or bookkeeper records cash or immediate payment transactions in the cash receipt journal, not in the sales journal.

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