How to post to the general ledger

Ledger posting is the aggregation of financial transactions from where they are stored in specialized ledgers, and transferring the information into the general ledger. Initially, transactions that are completed in volume are typically recorded in a specialty ledger, such as the sales ledger. Doing so keeps the general ledger from being awash in the detail for thousands of transactions. The information in the general ledger is then aggregated into a set of financial statements for each reporting period.

Information in one of the specialty ledgers is aggregated at regular intervals, at which point a summary-level entry is made and posted in the general ledger. In a manual bookkeeping environment, the aggregation may occur at fixed intervals, such as once a day or once a month. For example, if the source ledger were the sales ledger, the aggregated posting entry might include a debit to the accounts receivable account, and credits to the sales account and various sales tax liability accounts. When posting this entry in the general ledger, a notation could be made in the description field, stating the date range to which the entry applies. This is useful for providing additional clarity to a user of the general ledger who might be researching certain transactions.

In a computerized bookkeeping environment, posting to the general ledger may be unnoticeable. The software simply does so at regular intervals, or asks if you want to post, and then handles the underlying general ledger posting automatically. It is possible that no posting transaction even appears in the reports generated by the system.

Posting to the general ledger does not occur for lower-volume transactions, which are already recorded in the general ledger. For example, fixed asset purchases may be so infrequent that there is no need for a specialty ledger to house these transactions, so they are instead recorded directly in the general ledger.

If anyone wants to research a detailed transaction, they typically start with one of the financial statements, drill down to the relevant account in the general ledger, and then reference the specialty ledger that contains detailed information about the transaction in question.