Accounts: Their Construction and Interpretation for Business Men and Students of Affairs

By William Morse Cole | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
THE FUNDAMENTAL BOOKS

SCIENTIFIC bookkeeping is possible even with very few books. The use of great numbers of books in large counting-houses has its origin not so much in the method of bookkeeping as in the magnitude of the business recorded. To be sure, the books in such a counting-house are of many sorts and are complicated in form, but the variations from simple types have arisen hardly at all from a desire for better accounting, but chiefly from a desire to make accounting more economical. Probably no accounting is conducted anywhere that could not be conducted with equal correctness by means of the old-fashioned set of three simple books -- day-book, journal, and ledger. In many cases, however, such accounting would require by old methods one hundred bookkeepers where now ten suffice. No attempt will be made in this book to do more in the matter of mere record bookkeeping than to show the principles of simple books and to explain a few of the most common types or systems of abbreviation.

The most obvious duty of a bookkeeper is to record each transaction in such detail that at any time in the future its history can be determined without shadow of doubt.

The simplest type of business record-book is the old-fashioned day-book -- practically a diary -- which has now been supplanted. Its principle, however, is enduring, and must be understood. In it each transaction is given a paragraph, which tells all detail that can possibly be of use for future reference. For example, when goods are shipped, not only the amount, quality, and price should be given, but, where possible, case-number, or car-number, or other means of identification. When payment is made by a note, the record should show for future reference a number of details sufficient to identify that note, such as its date, time to run, payee, amount, and the like.

This does not mean, however, that duplication of record is desirable. When all notes are recorded in a separate register, as in most counting-rooms nowadays, the day-book entry needs to record

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