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What Is an Inventory Ledger?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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An inventory ledger is a document or collection of paperwork used by a company to track products based on quantity and value. This often allows a business to evaluate how materials and goods are coming into the company, how well they may be moving out due to sales, and to gauge any losses that may occur. One common type of inventory ledger is perpetual, while some companies may prefer to use a periodic ledger. These two common types of inventory ledger vary based on the frequency of updates performed on each.

There are a number of different forms that an inventory ledger can take, though traditionally it is a book with numerous pages. Each of these pages has a layout that usually includes multiple columns that can be used to note different information, such as quantity, value, and descriptions of items. A business usually has an inventory ledger with separate pages for certain types of items, such as individual accounts. Modern technology has made it easier for companies to keep such ledgers, and many businesses use computer software to maintain digital records of inventory and goods for production or sale.

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One of the most common types of inventory ledger is one that is referred to as “perpetual,” which is updated on an ongoing basis. Companies that employ this type of ledger typically have an automated system that tracks the transfer of products due to sales or incoming orders. This means that as goods are sold, the inventory ledger is immediately updated to reflect this transfer, and as new materials come into the company they are added to the ledger. While such methods are not practical for every business, they can allow a company to track its inventory quickly and adjust orders for materials as needed.

The other common form of inventory ledger is called “periodic” and is updated on a regular basis, but not immediately upon changes to inventory. This usually requires a physical count of products and goods at a company, which is then used to adjust internal numbers regarding what materials are on hand. Such counts are typically performed on a set schedule, which can range from annual full inventory counting to weekly evaluations for high-risk items. A ledger of this type, used for periodic counts, is usually updated less frequently than a perpetual one, but the changes can be more dramatic depending on how products sell or come in over time.

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