By the end of the subtopic, learners should be able to:
  • Define subsidiary books.
  • List the subsidiary books.
  • Explain the general uses of the subsidiary books.


Subsidiary books are also known as books of original entry or books of first entry or prime entry. These are books in which transactions are first recorded. Subsidiary books are drawn up from source documents. There are seven (7) subsidiary books, which are;
  1. Cash book
  2. Sales journal or Sales day book
  3. Purchases journal or Purchases day book
  4. Sales returns or Returns inwards journal or day book
  5. Purchases returns or Returns outwards journal or day book
  6. General journal or The Journal or Journal Proper
  7. Petty cash book
Due to the complexities involved in recording all business transactions, each of the subsidiary books is used for recording transactions of a similar nature. After transactions are recorded in the subsidiary books, they are then posted to the ledger to complete the double entry system.

General uses of the Subsidiary books

  • To record all business transactions.
  • Act as a first record of all transactions made by the business. (also referred to as books of first entry).
  • To show the date on which the transaction took place.
  • To group together transactions of a similar nature, for example, credit sale of goods in trade are entered in the Sales Journal whilst credit purchases are entered in the Purchases Journal.
  • To show the details relating to a transaction, for example, cash sales.
  • To show the value of transactions involved.
  • They act as a base for the preparation of the final accounts of a business.
  • Provides a cross reference of the original source document in the folio column for example the invoice number for goods bought or sold on credit.