Books of original entry refers to the accounting journals in which business transactions are initially recorded. The information in these books is then summarized and posted into a general ledger, from which financial statements are produced. Each accounting journal contains detailed records for the types of accounting transactions pertaining to a specific area. Examples of these accounting journals are:
- Cash journal
- General journal
- Purchase journal
- Sales journal
The general ledger is not considered a book of original entry, if it only contains summarized entries posted to it from one of the underlying accounting journals. However, if transactions are recorded directly into the general ledger, it can be considered one of the books of original entry.
Books of original entry are extremely useful for investigating individual accounting transactions, and are commonly accessed by auditors, who verify a selection of business transactions to ensure that they were recorded correctly.
This concept only applies to manual record keeping. A computerized accounting system no longer makes reference to any of the accounting journals, instead recording all business transactions in a central database.
A journal may also be referred to as a day book.