What is a Check Register?

Definition: A check register, also called a cash disbursements journal, is the journal used to record all of the checks, cash payments, and outlays of cash during an accounting period. A check register usually has columns to include the dates, check number, payee, account names used, and the credit and debits associated with the transaction.

What Does Check Register Mean?

Bookkeepers typically record transactions in the check register before the business transactions are posted to the general ledger and other ledgers associated with the transactions.

The most common accounts found in this register depend on the company. For instance, a retailer would have many payments for inventory, accounts payable, and salaries expenses. A manufacturer, on the other had, might have entries for raw materials purchases and production costs. The journal shows the accounts that are debited and credited in each transaction as well as the effect on the overall cash balance.


A check register typically calculates a running balance in the checking account. In this way, it’s a lot like a real time record of the bank account. The bookkeeper can check to see the total balance in the account as well as the checks and disbursements.

Management can use this journal to not only see how much cash has been disbursed; it can also track what cash is being used for. In other words, management can look through the check register and see what ratio of cash is being spend on inventory compared to the amount of cash being spent on paying other bills.

Since the check register also includes the check numbers of any checks that were issued, management can clearly scan the journal for missing or incorrectly written checks.

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