Journals represent the first place where transactions are entered into the accounting system, and hence are the most important source of data for the accounting process after the source documents. An error made in any of the journals will follow through to the general ledger; and from there to the financial statements themselves. As such, the accurate construction, entry of data, and interpretation of the journals is an important skill for any accountant or accounting student. The journals themselves are chronological records of all transactions under a specific category, including details of the transaction. The details need to include the data of the transaction, the amount of the transaction, the accounts credited and debited as a result of the transaction, and sometimes a brief explanation of the transaction. Most transactions will also include account numbers and / or transaction codes. These can help each journal entry to be identified with a transaction, hence providing clarity for the audit process.
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As journal entries are the point of entry for any transaction into the accounting system, as part of filling in the journal accountants must decide which accounts are affected by the transaction and which account should be debited and which should be credited. As such, once the transactions have been entered into the journal accounts, they can then be posted to the correct T-accounts in the general ledger. This means that posting transactions to the general ledger can be done simply and mechanically: because all debit and credit decisions have already been made.