How to Record Journal Entries in QuickBooks

Male deli owner doing paperwork and using laptop

Hero Images/Getty Images

Accounting transactions can get entered incorrectly into an accounting system, or perhaps a transaction should have been split into two different general ledger accounts, for example.

Either way, when this happens you have to make changes to your original transaction after it's been recorded, and you can do this easily in QuickBooks accounting software by making a journal entry.

You can make journal entries in QuickBooks to adjust or correct transactions and post entries that cannot be performed in other ways, such as adjustments to profit or loss.

The journal entry process is fairly straightforward, but you can only make a journal entry for one customer or vendor at a time. If you want to correct multiple customer or vendor balances this way, you'll have to post separate entries.

What Is a Journal Entry?

A general journal entry is an accounting transaction that is entered, or posted, directly to the general ledger. A company's general ledger acts as its main group of accounts used to record balance sheet and income statement transactions.

For example, you may have entered the monthly $100 utility bill into your company's insurance expense account by accident. You can post an adjusting journal entry to reduce, or credit the insurance expense account by $100 and increase, or debit the utility expense account by $100 to correct your mistake. All your accounts would then be in proper order, and you wouldn't have to change the amount owed by your vendor because that portion of the transaction was recorded properly.

Journal Entries for Year-End Activities

Your certified public accountant or bookkeeper might want to make journal entries to complete year-end activities, such as posting tax adjustments to your books, recording depreciation expense or reclassifying revenues and expenses. Your accounting professional can provide you with specific information if you want to post the journal entries yourself at year's end, along with explanations for why the entries were necessary for your particular situation.

How to Make General Journal Entries in QuickBooks

You can make general journal entries in QuickBooks by following these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Go to Company > Make General Journal Entries from the menu at the top of the screen.
  2. Change the Date field, if necessary, in the Make General Journal Entries window. QuickBooks will default to the current date so if you want to post an entry for a previous month or year, be sure to change it so that your entry gets recorded in the proper financial time period.
  3. Enter a number for your journal entry in the Entry No. field. QuickBooks will automatically number subsequent journal entries sequentially.
  4. Enter the general ledger account number In the Account column. You can also select the first account from a drop-down menu in the Account column.
  5. Enter the debit or credit amount for the account you've selected into the Debit or Credit columns. The debits and credits must be equal to make the entry balanced and allow QuickBooks to post the entry.
  6. Enter a descriptive memo in the Memo Column. It will be displayed on reports that include this journal entry. This step is optional, but it's recommended so that you'll remember later why the entry was made.  
  7. Repeat Steps 4 through 6 until the entries completely offset each other and the transaction reaches a zero balance. Your total in the Debit column should equal the total in the Credit column, and the journal entry will then be properly balanced. 
  8. Click Save & Close to save the journal entry and close the window, or click Save & New to save the journal entry and open a new window.

You can make most general journal entries in QuickBooks using these steps, but if you want to make journal entries that affect a particular customer’s account receivable or a vendor’s accounts payable, you'll have to put the customer or vendor on the first line of the entry.