Automating Your Accounting: General Ledger Templates

April 24, 2024

Do you know what is important in finance and business? Keeping accurate records. The general ledger is the keystone of these records, sharing a comprehensive overview of a company’s financial transactions. Although the concept of a general ledger is not new, the methods used to manage it have significantly evolved.

Automation has emerged as a powerful tool, positively impacting businesses' accounting processes. One key aspect of this automation is utilizing general ledger templates, which streamline the recording and organization of financial data, making the process more efficient and accurate for finance and accounting outsourcing companies. This blog post will delve into general ledger templates, exploring their benefits, implementation strategies, and best practices.

What is a general ledger?

A general ledger keeps a record of all financial transactions made within a business since its start. Its primary function is to systematically organize these transactions, providing insight into revenues generated and expenses incurred.

The balance of an accounting ledger template represents the disparity between credits and debits. This can be calculated by subtracting the total number of debits from credits. The data within the ledger is invaluable, serving as the foundation for informed decision-making, particularly when outsourcing accounting for small business.

Maintaining a general payment ledger template is crucial for efficient record-keeping within your business. It carefully documents and categorizes all payment activities between business accounts, offering a holistic view of financial growth and stability while ensuring accurate financial reporting .

The money spent and earned within your business are recorded in the ledger. Compare this with notebooks you used to write your business transactions into as they were completed. And write everything in the general ledger. Let’s discuss a few examples of this ledger:

  • Accounts receivable: an asset account reflecting funds owed to your business.

  • Accounts payable: an expense account detailing outstanding obligations.

  • Cash: an equity account indicating liquid assets owned by your business.

  • Inventory: an asset account documenting purchases and sales affecting your business's inventory.

The general ledger organizes and summarizes financial activities, providing a comprehensive overview of your business's financial health and performance.

Why do you need a General Ledger?

Creating your general ledger can be a smart move, especially when considering the cost of outsourcing accounting services and other compelling reasons:

  • Accurate Record Keeping: Keeping a general ledger will essentially magnify the accuracy of all recorded financial transactions pertaining to your business.

  • Trial Balance Preparation: It basically uncovers the making of trial balance which helps with the proper accounting of financial records. This exercise ensures accuracy.

  • Tax Filing Simplification: With all the income and expenditure having the details in one place makes everything to be included in the tax filing system so simple.

  • Real-Time Financial Reporting: Through immediate note-taking for expenses and income, you will keep tracking of your spending and revenue, which helps you to budget steadily.

  • Early Detection of Irregularities: The process is accelerated as it permits immediate anomaly detection through the whole process, which makes defrauding much harder, a key feature for the businesses that rely on the back-office accounting outsourcing.
  • Fraud Prevention: The good maintenance of a ledger can be a powerful ally to identify and avoid the loss of financial resources as a result of fraudulent acts on your business.

  • Key Financial Statement Compilation: This assists in generating essential financial statements for assessing your business's liquidity, profitability, and overall financial status, potentially reducing the reliance on accounting outsourcing companies in India for financial reporting tasks.

Double-entry bookkeeping and a general ledger template are the preferred accounting system for small businesses. This method involves recording each transaction twice: 

  • Once when money exits one account 

  • Once when it enters another

Before creating a ledger template, you must decide whether to employ the double-entry method or the simpler single-entry method, which is more suitable for smaller businesses with fewer monthly transactions.

Familiarizing yourself with double-entry bookkeeping will often lead to encountering the term "trial balance," a tool specific to this method. Regularly preparing trial balances ensures error-free accounting and facilitates the creation of financial statements.

A trial balance confirms that credits and debits for the accounting period tally accurately. Any error requires revision until a corrected trial balance is achieved, maintaining the integrity of your financial records. 

It is crucial to understand that the trial balance serves an internal purpose in creating business reports and is not a financial report. Accountants and bookkeepers utilize a simple formula to maintain the accuracy:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

This equation highlights the fundamental principle that your recorded assets should equal the sum of your equity and liabilities. If this is not equal, it indicates a need for revision to rebalance your ledger, reaffirming the importance of careful accounting practices regardless of the method employed.

What does the General Ledger template look like?

A general ledger template always maintains equilibrium between debit and credit amounts, serving as the repository for all recorded business transactions essential for preparing financial statements. Encompassing every financial transaction becomes a pivotal tool for accurately forecasting a business's financial well-being, especially for an accounting outsourcing company. Functioning as the primary database of financial information, it intertwines with other financial documents, offering a comprehensive insight into the business's financial landscape.

For a clearer view of a general payment ledger template, let’s look at its fundamental elements:

1. Ledger Accounts

The ledger is categorized into various accounts:

  • Assets: These encompass the business's resources that generate value, such as cash, property, inventory, patents, and trademarks.

  • Liabilities: The business's future or current financial obligations, including taxes, employee salaries, lines of credit, mortgages, leases, or bank loans.

  • Equity: Equity represents the differences between the business's liabilities and assets. Positive equity indicates more assets than liabilities, while negative equity suggests the opposite. Depending on ownership structure, equity may include stock options, common stock, or stocks.

  • Revenue: Income from selling services or products, including royalties, interest, sales, or fees collected from other entities.

  • Expenses: Expenditures incurred by the business for services or products, encompassing utilities, travel, meals, and rent. A typical ledger template features a front page listing the accounts documented within, known as the "Chart of Accounts," with each account ledger documented afterward.

2. Sub-Ledgers

These provide detailed insights behind entries documented in account ledgers, including whether they are credited or debited by accounts payable, cash, accounts receivable, etc.

How to create a general ledger template?

The accounting department is a vital component of any business. It entails keeping the records in order that help to recap the financial status of the business. Your accounting system has various components, but the foundation of the system is the general ledger, which we explained before.

The general ledger template you use must be kept at all times up to date, as they are the foundation of your income statement and balance sheets, which are important components of your financial health. Any incorrect financial information can lead to disastrous consequences. To make an Excel business ledger template, here are some steps to guide you:

Create the Chart of Accounts:

Compile a list of all accounts related to your business. Typically, accounts are categorized into assets (starting with "1"), liabilities (starting with "2"), owner's equity (starting with "3"), revenue (starting with "4"), and expenses (starting with "5"). For smaller businesses, you can start with account numbers like 100, while larger companies may begin with 1000.

Allocate Entries for Each Account:

Assign each account its page within the ledger. This organization facilitates future account additions or removals. Input the accounts into the ledger using the arrangement established in the Chart of Accounts.

Assign Values to Accounts:

Fill each account with its respective balance. Some accounts may start with a zero balance, such as those with no recorded transactions. Conversely, accounts with transactions, like $800 spent on office supplies, should reflect their appropriate balances.

Best Practices for General Ledger Templates

To optimize the benefits of outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping while using general ledger templates, consider the following best practices:

  • Standardize Naming Conventions: Follow the same naming schemes for the accounts and categories to grant a visibility and uniformity in the financial reports.

  • Segregation of Duties: Conduct segregation of duties as well as prohibit any unauthorized access to the general ledger template. Create privileges for only the authorized employees within the organization who will only be responsible for financial recording and reviewing.

  • Regular Reconciliation: Hold frequent accounting reconciliations to ensure that the general ledgers are consistent with the supporting data in the bank statements and invoices.

  • Document Processes: Document the processes and procedures using the general ledger template. This documentation serves as a user reference and ensures consistency in accounting practices.

Backup and Security: Robust security and backup measures are essential to keep the confidentiality and integrity of financial data stored in the general ledger template. This is crucial in the finance and accounting business process to mitigate risks associated with data breaches or loss.


General ledger templates are powerful tools for automating the accounting process and improving financial reporting accuracy. By automating the accounting process, businesses can realize time savings and profits while ensuring compliance with accounting standards. Implementing this automation process requires careful planning, customization, and maintenance. 

Are you interested in exploring what is outsourcing accounting, finance and accounting outsourcing trends and the pros and cons of outsourcing accounting services, or do you want to unlock the full potential of general ledger templates to drive business success? Contact Collar Search today!