Create a General Journal Entry

Learn about the process for creating a general journal entry through the Accounting and Reporting at Columbia (ARC) system. 


General journal entries are made to record the financial transactions of the University. They are made in a double-entry system, according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), where debits equal credits.

Journal entries in ARC consist of a header, which records the information that uniquely identifies the journal entry and detail lines that mark the individual transactions and the affected chartfields.

When to use General Journal Entries

General journal entries are less common and generally executed by the Controller’s Office

They are used in the following situations: 

  • For accruals of revenue or expense.
  • Departmental bank account expense entries. 
  • To record a change in balance that cannot be made via the internal transfers page.

NOTE: If you do not have access to execute general journal entries, you may request that the entry be made by the Controller’s Office.

Rules for Entering General Journal Entries

When creating general journal entries in ARC, it is vital to keep the following rules in mind:

  • General journal entries are made using the “Journal Entries Page” in ARC.
  • Total debit and credit lines must equal each other, but unlike internal transfers, each line is not required to have equal debits and credits.

Journal Header

The first step in the journal entry process is entering the journal header information. For interfaced journals, this will happen in the subsystem where the entry was initially created (i.e., Accounts Payable).

On the Journal Header page the system required fields will default to the following: 

  • Ledger Group - will default to ActualsThis field is grayed out, meaning that it can not be changed.
  • Source - will default to ONL for general journal entries. This field is grayed out, meaning that it can not be changed.
  • Transaction Code - will default to "GENERAL". This field is not grayed out and therefore, can be changed.
  • Long description and journal class are also required fields from a business process perspective. The system will not stop the transaction if these fields are not populated but it’s best practice that all users fill these fields with accurate information.
  • The long description is a simple text field where you can enter a description of the journal being entered. This will give the journal approver context as to what the journal entry is.
  • The journal class field is a three-digit code that represents the department that initiated the transaction. The initiator of the transaction must populate this field with the correct information since this will also be used for reporting purposes.

Journal Lines

Once the journal header information has been entered and saved, you will be taken to the journal lines page. 

The journal lines page is where you enter the chartstrings for your transaction. This is where amounts are entered (total debits must equal total credits) and where journal processing is initiated. 

Journal processing involves edit checking, budget checking, routing a journal for approval, and posting a journal to the general ledger. These processing options are within the process menu towards the top of the journal lines page.

Create a General Journal Entry

For guidance on how to create a general journal entry in ARC, please refer to the job aids below. 

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