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Principles and Practice of Accounting > Subsidiary Books > Introduction to Subsidiary Books
Subsidiary Books

Introduction to Subsidiary Books

Accounting can be a tiresome process. A company has thousands of financial transactions in a year and journalizing them all can get quite bothersome. So some companies choose to prepare subsidiary books, in which we record transactions of a similar nature in chronological order. Let us learn about them.

Subsidiary Books

Subsidiary books are books of original entry. In the normal course of business, a majority of transactions are either relate to sales, purchases or cash. So we record transactions of the same or similar nature in one place, i.e. the subsidiary book. And we record these transactions in chronological order.

This actually saves a lot of man-hours and tiresome clerical work. Instead of journalizing each entry, they are recorded into various subsidiary books. Think of your subsidiary book as sub-journals that record only one type of transaction.

There is no separate entry for these transactions in the general ledger. The posting to the Ledger Accounts is done from the subsidiary book itself. This method of recording is known as the Practical System of Accounting or sometimes the English System.

One thing to remember is that such a system does not violate the rules of Double Entry System. We have still recorded the transactions according to this system. All transactions are still affecting two accounts. Only instead of a journal, we are using subsidiary books as the books of original entry.

Subsidiary Books

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Types of Subsidiary Books

The following are the subsidiary books a company will generally maintain while writing their accounts,

  • Cash Book- It is a book which records the receipts and payment of cash transaction.
  • Purchase Book- It is a book which records all the credit purchases of goods of the company.
  • Purchase Return Book- It is a book which records all the return of credit purchases of goods of the company.
  • Sales Book- It is a book which records all the credit sales of goods of the company.
  • Sales Return Book- It is a book which records all the return of credit sales of goods of the company.
  • Bills Receivable Book- It is a book which records all the bills receivable.
  • Bills Payable Book- It is a book which records all the bills payable.
  • Journal Proper- All the transactions which are not recorded in the above books are recorded here.

It’s Advantages

Let us now take a look at some of the advantages these subsidiary books provide in the process of accounting

  1. Saving Labour Hours: Recording in a subsidiary book saves a lot of time and clerical hours. Firstly there is no need to journalize and/or give narrations for every transaction. This helps reduce the time it takes to completely record a transaction. Also since we use a number of subsidiary books, various accounting process can be undertaken simultaneously. This will save the time of the clerks/accountants.
  2. Division of Work: In place of one general journal, we have several subsidiary books, So the resulting work may be divided among several members of the staff. This will save time, improve efficiency and result in fewer errors as well.
  3. Specialization of Work: If one person maintains the same subsidiary book over many years he acquires full knowledge and understanding of the work. We can say he becomes a specialist in one type of transaction (say purchases for example). He becomes very efficient in handling such transactions and hardly any error gets made.
  4. Easy for Reference: When transactions of all types are in the same subsidiary book it becomes easy to search for them. Whenever any information is needed we directly refer the subsidiary book to get said information.
  5. Easier for Checking: If the Trial Balance does not match, it will be much easier to locate the error thanks to the existence of separate books i.e. a subsidiary book. Same goes if you want to detect fraud.

Solved Question for You

Q: We completely eliminate journalizing when we record transactions in a subsidiary book. True or False?

Ans: This statement is false. We record only transactions of similar types in a subsidiary book. Sales, Purchase, Cash transactions, etc will find a place in subsidiary books. But say you purchase an asset. We will record this transaction in the journal.

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