How to keep a general ledger

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The general ledger is the backbone of your company's financial reporting system. All of a company's business transactions are ultimately posted to the general ledger account. Many businesses use computer software to track accounting activity, and these software programs maintain separate sub-ledgers for different departments. All of these sub-ledgers eventually consolidate into the general ledger account. Some transactions, such as depreciation, temporary accounting adjustments, interest accrual and capital expenditures, are posted directly to the general ledger.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Organise all of the paperwork from the transactions that need to be posted to the general ledger. Paperwork may include receipts, loan agreements, leases or other contracts.

  2. 2

    Enter each general ledger account into a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. Enter any debit amounts in one column and any credit amounts in a column to the right. Also include a description of each general ledger entry in a row to the right of the debit and credit columns.

  3. 3

    Sum the debt and credit amounts at the bottom of each column. Compare the total debits to total credits to make sure the numbers are the same.

  4. 4

    Open the general ledger application in your company's accounting software, and enter the debit and credit information from your Excel spreadsheet. Make sure that you are entering the transactions in the month in which they occurred (which may be different from the current month).

  5. 5

    Print out a summary of your general ledger entries (before posting them), and compare the entries to the entries on your spreadsheet. You may also want to check one or two of the general ledger entries against the paperwork for the transaction.

  6. 6

    Post your general ledger entries by following the instructions in your accounting software program. Print out a final copy of the posted entries, and file it (along with the transaction paperwork) with your office manager.

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