A general ledger is a type of accounting document that includes all of the financial records for a company, often consisting of additional documents to track credits and debits on individual accounts as well as monitor available equity and inventory. The document may appear in a physical book, in a series of custom spreadsheets, or as pages within a digital record-keeping program.
All businesses need to keep records of financial balances and transactions in order to ensure both the proper tracking of internal expenditures and the correct reporting on tax documents, which typically appears in the form of a general ledger. Some versions may use a single general ledger form, which can include multiple pages, that list out the current balances of all a company's accounts over different dates. For example, each segment of the general ledger balance sheet may feature the title of the account or its account number along with sections to write in the total balance on a recurring schedule.
In some cases, the general ledger may also feature other documents to track the accounts in greater detail, such as with a general journal. This document allows the accountant to write every transaction that happens on an account, including debits and credits, in order to feed in the most current balance details to the general ledger sheet. Many accounting spreadsheets and programs use this format to automatically generate the balance sheet totals with each transaction.