What is a Columnar Journal?

Definition: A columnar journal is any accounting journal that has more than one column. Most accounting records like the sales journalcash receipts journal, and credit sales journal have more than one column. In fact, also all accounting reports have more than one column. It’s unlikely to find one that only has a single line of data.

What Does Columnar Journal Mean?

Multiple column journal typically display data like dates, account numbers, reference numbers, account descriptions, invoice numbers, debit balances, credit balances, and account totals. They sometimes include transaction descriptions and even notes made by the bookkeeper.

Each set of columns is usually company specific and doesn’t have to follow any type of standardize format. These are internal documents that only management and other insiders will see.


Business events are recorded in columnar journals in the form of journal entries. These entries track and record the financial information of the company throughout the year accounting period and are used to prepare the financial statements at the end of each year.

Separate journals are usually kept for various departments and business activities. For example, the sales journal is used to record all of the sales during a period and the cash disbursements journal records all of the cash outlays. Each one of these separate journals is also recorded in the general journal where every transaction made by the company is recorded for the period.