Bookkeeping is a little like physics – there are unbreakable rules. So to paraphrase one of them, “For every debit, there is an equal and opposite credit.” But in QuickBooks, that is not always obvious. The “implied side” of a transaction is not staring you in the face most of the time.

The balancing side of every transaction is there nonetheless, so that your general ledger zeroes out and your financial statements work as they are supposed to.

Where do you find the implied side of the transactions? Sometimes you want to know (or confirm) what the offsetting entry is behind the scenes. That’s where the Transaction Journal comes into play.

You can simply run the Reports / Accountant and Taxes / Journal report. It will show every transaction within the reporting date range (which you can change) and it will break out the debits and credits of every transaction into columns for the accounts that are affected.

In this example (which I split into different lines for viewability), Mr. Teschner made a payment against his customer account. You see the split in the Journal report: Checking account 10100 was debited (increased) by $5,000 and Accounts Receivable account 11000 was credited (decreased) by $5,000.

Example of Journal Report in QuickBooks

You can change the dates on this report to focus on a particular date or date range, or you can click Customize Report / Filters to limit the Journal report’s output to particular accounts you wish to see.

A faster way to pinpoint one particular transaction is to pull up the customer, vendor, employee, etc. in its respective Center.

Let’s say you want to see the implied side of an invoice that posted to a particular customer.

Go the Customer Center and click on the customer you want. You’ll see the customer’s transaction in the right-hand pane.

In this example, let’s say you want to see all the debits and credits associated with invoice 1024, the last transaction in the listing.

You just right-click on that transaction, and select “View Transaction Journal”, like this:

Journal transaction detail

A new window will pop up with the debits and credits for that specific transaction. Here’s the rightmost columns of information in the window:

Viewing the transactions journal in QuickBooks

Nice! This is faster and easier than running the big Journal report and filtering down to this level. You see that the implied side of the transaction is listed first: accounts receivable. That’s the implied side of the invoice transaction.

This is a pretty obvious example. But in cases where you’re not sure what the offsetting debit or credit was, you have ways to find out.

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14 thoughts on “QuickBooks and Double-Entry Accounting: Where’s the Other Side?

  1. The problem with transaction journal shown above is it does not show which is a credit and which is a debit. It shows (increases and decreases) to accounts rather than a standard journal entry which would show debits on the left and credits on the right. One more reason why trained accountants despise QB

    Reply
    • You can always modify reports in QB to show debits and credits, rather than just the amount shown as positive or negative. Doing this has helped me reconcile many accounts over the years. Under Modify Report, in the display tab that comes up, go to the Columns section and from the list de-select Amount, and select Debit and Credit.

      As a trained Accountant using QB for over 10 years, I absolutely love the flexibility in reporting and data analysis it provides to small and medium sized businesses who can’t necessarily afford to break in to the larger software packages.

      Reply
  2. Hi there, D. The reports you see above were generated with QB Pro 2012. And you’re right, it doesn’t break out the debit and credit columns. I believe though that it will always represent debits as positive and credits as negative amounts so you can tell what is what. For many transaction types in QB Pro 2012, there ARE debit and credit columns in the drilldown Transaction Journal: Payments, Checks, Paychecks… But invoices and bills do not break out those columns.

    Now if you run the same report in Premier Accountant 2012 edition, it DOES show debit and credit columns. So some of this has to do with the edition you are using.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Reply
  3. I would like to be able to see the journal entry on any given transaction directly from the transaction window. If i am doing a complex transaction with a number of expense lines, and different tax amounts, i want to know where everything is going.

    Reply
    • I just got here from the Feb 2017 Newsletter.
      Here is your answer although 5 years later.

      While in any transaction (bill, check, invoice, whatever) just press “Ctrl-Y”.
      It’s been there as long as I can remember (20+ yrs).
      So when you can’t figure out “Y” a transaction did what it did, use “Ctrl-Y”.

      BTW, prior to QB my office was handwriting checks and using “Peachtree Complete Accounting for DOS” before I got here …. in 2008. Yes, DOS in 2008.

      Reply
    • Hi Audi,

      Whatever entries you make in your new company will have both sides of the entry when you enter transactions. It’s just that it’s not always obvious what both sides are. If you want to see both sides as you enter them, then you enter general journal entries.

      Thanks for the question.

      Reply
  4. You can always modify reports in QB to show debits and credits, rather than just the amount shown as positive or negative. Doing this has helped me reconcile many accounts over the years. Under Modify Report, in the display tab that comes up, go to the Columns section and from the list de-select Amount, and select Debit and Credit.

    As a trained Accountant using QB for over 10 years, I absolutely love the flexibility in reporting and data analysis it provides to small and medium sized businesses who can’t necessarily afford to break in to the larger software packages.

    Reply

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