Getting Started with Journal Entries

Learn about journal entry rules and types, as well as security and workflow considerations in the Accounting and Reporting at Columbia (ARC) system. 


Journal entries are transactions that affect financial balances and related reports. They do not create transactions with third-party systems the way that cash disbursement transactions in the Accounts Payable module or Payroll modules do.

Journal Entry Rules
  • Journal entries are made in the general ledger module of ARC using valid chartstrings.
  • Journal entries are subject to rules for combo edits, budget checking, and approvals (workflow).
  • All journal entries follow specific rules, no matter what type of entry they are.
  • All journal entries must have a debit side and a credit side.
  • Total debits must equal total credits.
  • When you are in ARC, you must enter credits as negative numbers (this is the only way that ARC knows it is a credit).

Types of Journal Entries
  • Internal transfers
  • General journal entries
  • Interfaced journals

For additional guidance, refer to the Journal Entry Types job aid. 

Types of Transfers
  • Allocated revenues
  • Shared expenses
  • Recharge centers
  • Non-recharge internal transfer
  • General funds transfer
  • The Office of Management and Budget central transfers
  • Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) central transfers
  • Transfers to/from endowments
  • Transfers to/from plant
  • Transfers to/from student loan

For additional guidance, refer to the Transfer Types job aid. 

Security and Workflow

In ARC, there are three components of transaction security and workflow. These are assigned through the security/workflow application process:

1. System security – you must have access to ARC and the internal transfers or general journal entries pages to create transactions in ARC.

2. Chartfield security – there are two types of chartfield security:

  • Security based on department governs the departments you can approve for – although you can create a journal entry for any department.
  • Security based on natural account allows you to select the natural accounts you need, but certain natural accounts are restricted.

3. Workflow:

  • Is used in the general ledger to obtain approvals for internal transfers and general journal entries
  • Controls the routing of a transaction to multiple people
  • Helps to process the transactions more securely and efficiently

When a journal is routed for approval, the approver(s) need(s) to verify the information on the journal header and journal lines, and review the documentation to determine whether to approve or deny the journal entry. A journal will only post if all approvers approve the journal. 

Journal approvers have access to a journal approval search page in ARC where they can search for journals pending approval and take action on the respective journals. 

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