How to write a journal entry

What is Journal Entry?

A Journal Entry is simply a summary of the debits and credits of the transaction entry to the Journal. Journal entries are important because they allow us to sort our transactions into manageable data.

Consider the following diagram

You’ll notice the above diagram shows the first step as “Source Documents”. Source documents are things such as receipts, invoices, bank statements and credit card statements that are collected during the year so that we have all the information we need when the time comes for us do our accounting/bookkeeping. Obviously, in this tutorial, we won’t be asking you to go out and collect invoices and receipts, so we’ll conveniently “skip” that step for now.

The next step is entering journals. Every time a transaction occurs, it’s recorded using a journal entry.


Everything we do from this point on will be stuff that real accountants and bookkeepers are doing in their offices at this very moment. That means this lesson will be a little more technical than the previous ones. Don’t let that spook you though. You’ll be surprised at how simple it can be! Now would be a good time for us to lay out the steps in the accounting/bookkeeping process:

Imagine having a large stack of receipts and invoices from different shops, suppliers, and customers. All the information you need is there, but it’s useless when it’s all messed up like that! Journal entries help us sort all this into meaningful information.

Here’s what a typical journal entry looks like:

Transaction: Pay an expense of $100.

Journal entry:

Dr Expense $100
Cr Bank $100

Let’s take a look at what this means.

First of all, Dr and Cr are simply abbreviations for Debit and Credit.

Every single transaction consists of two movements: a debit movement and a credit movement. Be careful not to confuse this with the debit and credit sides. These are two different things.

Debit and credit movements are used in accounting to show increases or decreases in our accounts. Therefore instead of saying there has been an increase or a decrease in an account, we say there has been a debit movement or a credit movement.

For example, in the previous tutorial we learned to show the above transaction like this:

Account Amount Account Amount
Expense +$100
Bank -$100

Now, instead of showing these as pluses and minuses, we will show them in a journal entry as debit movements and credit movements:

Dr Expenses $100
Cr Bank $100

The nature of each movement is explained below:

DEBIT SIDE (Assets, Expenses, Drawings) CREDIT SIDE (Liabilities, Revenue, Owner’s Equity)
Increase Debit movement Credit movement
Decrease Credit movement Debit movement

Let’s apply this to our example:

When we pay expenses that means our expenses have increased. Also, when we pay expenses, our bank account is obviously going to go down.

So, in summary, we need to record a transaction that will increase expenses and decrease bank.

Referring back to our matrix, we can see that to increase expenses we require a debit movement.

DEBIT SIDE (Assets, Expenses, Drawings) CREDIT SIDE (Liabilities, Revenue, Owner’s Equity)
Increase Debit movement Credit movement
Decrease Credit movement Debit movement

We can also see that decreasing our bank requires a credit movement:

(Assets, Expenses, Drawings)
(Liabilities, Revenue, Owner’s Equity)
Increase Debit movement Credit movement
Decrease Credit movement Debit movement

Now it’s your turn. Have a go at writing journal entries for the transactions we’ve had in the previous lessons. The first one has been done for you.

Do you need a place to express yourself? Do you want to express yourself on different topics? Writing different journal entries can help you put your various thoughts into words. You decide the length and topic of your writing. Let your feelings fly onto different pages. The great thing about journal entries is that they offer you a blank canvas each time you decide to write. No need to pick up where you left off, unless you want to.

So, what exactly are journal entries?

Journal entries are individual pieces of writing that populate your journal. They are expressions of personal growth, interests and opinions. They are usually between 500-1000 words and each entry can be about something different. Journal entries are usually kept private, as that allows people to write honestly.

8 Tips for Writing Journal Entries

Getting started with a journal entry can be difficult, but they can take any form you like, from bible journal entries, to food journal entries, to dream journal entries. Here are some creative ideas to get you started.

1. Write a Letter

Pretend you are writing a letter to someone. The letter will not be sent, so you can say anything you want. Maybe you write things in this letter you were too scared to say in real life. It can be written to a single person or to a group of people. This is a healthy way to get things off your chest and say the things you are truly feeling. This also helps people deal with stress.

2. Write a List

Lists are always easy ways to get started. Think about writing a to-do list of things you want to accomplish over the next year. You can even write a list of things you want to write about in your journal. This can be like a brainstorming session for your writing.

3. Use a Photo

Penzu allows you to add pictures to your journal entries. If you are feeling stuck on what to write, add a picture and write about what it means to you. It can be a picture of a special moment, a special person, a special pet, or a special place. Use this image as a way to inspire you.

4. Describe a Character

Write about a person. It can be a stranger or someone you care about. Sit down and write about that person. It doesn’t matter if it is truth or fiction. You can let your imagination wander and write a story about what you think this person wants, likes, doesn’t like. Let your mind fill in the blanks and create a character in your mind.

5. Write a Poem

Try to write a poem. Think about a significant person and write about how that person makes you feel. Think about a place and how that makes you feel. Try and find emotion in the simple things in life.

6. Write a Dialogue

You can write an imaginary conversation between you and someone else. Or you can write an imaginary conversation between other people. This is a creative exercise that can help you prepare for an upcoming discussion or help you reflect on one that already happened.

7. Write a sprint

Put five minutes on the clock and write as fast as you can about whatever comes to mind. This is about just thinking on your feet and focusing on the task at hand. Let loose whatever ideas are at the front of your mind.

8. Write a memory

Identify a memory you find important, although it doesn’t have to be. It can just be something you think about often. Describe that memory and what it means to you. How does it make you feel? Are you fond of it? Who was involved? Paint a picture for yourself.

The best way to get started with your first journal entry is to download Penzu and begin writing using their software. It is easy-to-use, private and secure. All your posts are dated and saved, so all you need to worry about it what to write. Use this list and get started today!

There’s no time like the present – start your free online journal today!

How to write a journal entry

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Journal Basics

Ideas for Journals

A five year journal can help you remember the people and events that matter to you.

Bible journals can provide you with a therapeutic way to better cope with everyday situations, understand your feelings and establish a connection between your life and the biblical content.

Dream journals are instrumental in fields as diverse as psychology, natural science, creative arts and advanced mathematics. What is your subconscious trying to tell you?

Create a collection of adventures, stories, memories, and discovery while you travel. You’ll remember more about your trips and appreciate everything you experienced.

A reflective journal is the perfect place to jot down some of life’s biggest thoughts.

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Home » Lesson Plans » Lesson Plan for Teaching Journal Writing

How to Write a Journal Entry— Journaling plays an important role in the life of a student. Teachers across all grade levels and all subject areas are apt to include journaling as a part of their curriculum, so it’s necessary that elementary students practice journaling as soon as possible. Sometimes, it can be difficult for students to understand the concept of journaling or it can be challenging for them to come up with their own journaling ideas.

We have created a lesson plan that focuses on the concept of journaling and the fundamentals of this art form. Our lesson plan relies on a list of prompts that were created specifically for elementary school students. These writing prompts are adaptable to any classroom, from the kindergarten classroom where students are just beginning to learn the basics of writing and reading to the fifth-grade classroom where students are really discovering how to flesh out their ideas and create complete pieces.

Whether you are a teacher who is working with the youngest learners or a teacher who is hoping to prepare your students for their next step in their educational journey, you can use this lesson plan to introduce journal writing in your classroom.

Our complete lesson plan includes a list of writing prompts as well as a journaling worksheet that you can pass out to all of your students. It’s an all-in-one resource that makes it easy for you to make journaling a part of your classroom experience.

Lesson Plan: How to Write a Journal Entry

Ask the students to gather in the classroom meeting space.

Show them an example of a journal and read a journal entry.

Introduce the list of writing prompts to the students and encourage them to read over the prompts so that they can identify a favorite selection.

Teacher Modeling and Instructional Time (10 Minutes)

Discuss the concept of journaling with students. Ask them if they have ever written a journal entry before. Talk about their favorite writing topics.

Have the students make suggestions for their own journal topics and ideas.

Write a quick journal entry on the board and show them how an illustration can accompany a journal entry.

Guided Practice (10 Minutes)

Pass out the journal writing worksheets to the students.

Pass out the list of prompts.

Remind students to choose their favorite prompt and to draw an illustration to accompany the journal entry.

Independent Working Time (10 Minutes)

As students begin writing their journal entries, walk around the room and monitor their progress. Talk with students about which entry they chose and how they are going to write about that particular prompt. Answer questions as needed.

Consider playing quiet classical music in the background to help students feel both calm and focused as they write.

Remind students as you circulate that they should be incorporating detail into both their writing and their drawings.


To adapt this lesson plan to meet the needs of your own classroom, consider encouraging students to read their journal entries aloud after they have finished writing them. This gives an opportunity for students to receive instant feedback and to experience the peer review process.

For older students, eliminate the illustration process and instead focus on having them write longer, more detailed journal entries.

Review and Assessment (5 Minutes)

Encourage students to share snippets of their journal entries with the class. They may prefer to read what they wrote or they may want to describe the picture that they drew.

Ask questions about the entries and engage in discussion regarding their journal topics. Offer constructive feedback to those who share their work.

Closing (5 Minutes)

In conclusion, provide the students with several extra journal sheets that they can take home. Encourage them to complete at least 2-3 journal entries at home using the list of prompts provided. They should return those completed journal entries back to school within a week in order to receive full credit for the assignment.

Journal Entry Text for Worksheet

Write out the prompt that you wish to use for this journal entry:

Don’t forget to illustrate your journal entry. Draw your illustration here:

Now, it’s time to start writing. Here’s where your journal entry should begin:

Free Printable Journal Pages Compliments of

Click here or on the graphic below for your free printable journal pages.

Until next time, write on…

If you enjoyed this Journal Entry Lesson Plan,
please share it on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.
I appreciate it!

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ alt=”IMG_20180612_111535384″ width=”377″ height=”283″ srcset=” 377w, 754w, 150w, 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 377px) 100vw, 377px” /> Thinking small now will have a big impact later.

A couple of years ago, I shared my 10 Tips for Keeping a Journal, and today I want to elaborate on Tip #3: Think Small.

As I said in my previous post, “If you wait until you have ‘good stuff’ to write about, your journal may stay closed for months. The truth is, there’s good stuff happening all around us almost every day. Consider this—who’s this journal for? You, right? What will YOU want to look back on in ten years? What you’ll crave are the little things. The tiny little slices of life that you’ve forgotten about. So your job when journaling is to master the mundane.”

It’s true. I’ve been rereading some of my old journals (a favorite summer habit) and want to scream at my college-age self, “Stop babbling about boy troubles, and tell me what’s in your pockets!” (Somewhere, in another universe, college-age me just had a very strange dream.) Really though, there are plenty of pages about my feelings (which are important, yes) but not enough about my world. When I look back on that time, I’m not interested in reliving all my relationship angst. I’d much rather see my former surroundings—where I spent my Thursday afternoons and which t-shirt was my favorite and what I ate for breakfast. Even after college, I still sometimes went through phases of vague melancholy or (worse) vague bliss where I described my deep feelings of unease or contentment without ever really pinpointing where they came from. That’s why I’m thrilled when I stumble upon entries like this one from February 18, 2007:

I am sitting in my purple chair wearing the new jeans I got at Buffalo Exchange tonight (that I love ) with the green sweater that I rescued from the Goodwill bag (that I now really like) and the flip flops from Kelley’s wedding and a black head band wrap. I look totally funky stylin’ (in my not so fashionable opinion).

Note #1: Sweater and flip flops in Austin in February sounds about right.
Note #2: I am such a hoarder of clothes. I used to be SO BAD about putting things in a bag to take to Goodwill and then “rescuing” them a couple of days later, only to wear them once and then send them back to my closet for another year. I’ve learned my lesson. Now I take the bag to Goodwill immediately. Usually.
Note #3: I feel like I was quoting a friend when I used the phrase “funky stylin’” but I don’t remember who. Also, I hope I was being sarcastic.

Or this one from January 31, 2011:

I am sitting in my backyard writing by the light of the campfire I just made for myself (with the help of a firestarter log from HEB). My plan is to sit here and write in my journal and drink some High Life and read Lolita and enjoy the evening for as long as I like, no matter the time. I hear something barking off in the distance– maybe a coyote. Oh, and now I hear the muted but unmistakable caterwauling of Gink…

Note #1: High Life? Seriously? My guess is someone left them at my house.
Note #2: High Life and Lolita is a classy combination.
Note #3: I just Googled January 31, 2011, and it was a Monday, so I was enjoying this late-night campfire on a school night. How scandalous!
Note #4: You have no idea how loud my cat’s caterwauling can be. Someday, when he’s gone, this journal entry will remind me of the crazy sounds he used to make, and it will make me smile.

Those are the kinds of journal entries I can sink my nostalgic teeth into.

So if you’re keeping a journal, and you’re worried that nothing you write is exciting enough, fret not. Some of the most mundane tidbits today may be the lines that give you the biggest smiles ten years from now.

When in doubt, follow these simple instructions:

How to write a journal entryDownload a PDF of this diagram here:

Here’s an entry I wrote based on this format, without taking any of the optional tangents:

How to write a journal entryHow to write a journal entry

See? Until the robot swung the baseball bat and uncovered the hidden scorpion, there was nothing earth-shattering about this entry, but someday I’ll be glad I mentioned how Gabby used to insist on laying in my lap, and I’ll probably laugh about how excited I was over my first Roomba when I see what the robots of the future can do.

So give it a try. Grab a favorite pen and find a comfy spot and write something that future you will enjoy reading. Most importantly, have fun.

One last thing: Don’t ever feel like you have to fill up a whole page. Even short entries can have a lasting effect.

How to write a journal entry

Terrible handwriting aside, that’s quite a nice little nugget. 🙂

The video above discusses beliefs students hold about college and demonstrates how those beliefs relate to test performance. Consider how beliefs might also impact a student’s performance on writing assignments.

Develop a 200–400 word journal entry that identifies three beliefs, mentioned in the video or discovered through your own observations, that relate to a student’s ability to write academic essays. Explain how these beliefs might be adjusted through the practice of metacognition to improve writing results.

Worked Example

Journal entry assignments tend to be more flexible than other types of writing assignments in college, and as a result they can be tailored to your own experiences as long as they answer the primary questions asked in the assignment.

One model of a successful entry about this topic can be found below. Feel free to include your own experiences and examples from real life as they pertain to the issue at hand.

Writing in College Journal Entry

Belief: Learning is fast

Related to writing essays, I could see how I could easily fall into this trap of thinking that fast is good. I have such limited time in the day to work on school assignments, that I think that whatever I can manage to get done must be the best possible work that I’m capable of doing. I should allow myself more time, though that’s easier said than done. Even with smaller writing assignments, like this one, if I give myself a day or two to sketch out ideas for what I want to say, and then reflect on it before writing it, I think I’ll do a much better job in the long run.

Belief: I’m really good at multi-tasking

This one is very related to the “learning is fast” idea. Watching the girl in the video do a million things while she’s studying is just like watching my own kids at night! And I’m pretty guilty of this, as well. If I can set aside a quiet part of my night, and just focus on only one assignment at a time, I think I’ll do a lot better with my writing overall. And I’ll be happier with the results.

Belief: Being good at a subject is a matter of inborn talent

This is actually not a belief I personally hold. I always loved to read growing up, and I still do read fiction as much as time allows. But working as a business administrator for the past 15 years has shown me that I’m pretty good with numbers and bookkeeping, too, which I wouldn’t have guessed before this job.

One of my daughters is very drawn towards English and writing, and another struggles with it. They both seem to feel this is a matter of fate. I’m going to share this video with them, because I think there are ways that my daughter who struggles can be empowered to think that she CAN get better at writing, if she just keeps practicing. (This is also something I’m going to do myself…I’m very out of practice with writing for school!)

Bookkeeping Journals

The best way to learn about bookkeeping journals is to look at a variety of different journal entries examples and to practice entering them, which you can do using the journal template in Excel which is free to download, see below.

This Excel workbook has two sheets, one for income and one for expenses.

How to write a journal entry

Download the template and open it. You must Enable the document to be able to enter information to it.

Save it to a folder on your device or filing system somewhere you know you can find it again.

When you open it you will see three sheets:

  1. Income Journal Sheet
  2. Expense Journal Sheet
  3. Data Lists

journal Entries for Income

Here is a business transaction:

On October 15, Wow Plumbers installed a new bath and sink in Mr and Mrs Jackson’s house. The Jacksons paid $1,500.

Below is what the journal result looks like after entering the details of the above transaction.

How to write a journal entry

There are several items of information that change with each and every journal:

  • The date – the date the payment was made.
  • The details – The two accounts that are affected in the bookkeeping system, in this case the bank account in to which the money was deposited, and the labor and parts accounts where the income is recorded.
  • The debit and the credit columns – which should always add up to the same amount.
  • A line describing the reason for the journal – in this case the sale to the Jacksons.

How to write a journal entry

Journal Entries for expenses

This journal is based on the following business transaction:-

On October 31, Wow Plumbers paid $350.00 to 101 Office Supplies for paper and ink for the printer.

Below is what the journal result looks like after entering the details of the above transaction.

How to write a journal entry

As with the sales, there are specific items of information that change with every journal.

The headings: Date, Details, Debit, Credit and the ‘Journal ID’.

Journal Entries Example Template Input Sheet

The Excel template has an input section just above the journal results, they look like this:

How to write a journal entry

How to write a journal entry

Data Lists

Both the income and expenses journal practice sheets are linked to the Data Lists sheet.

You can add information to this sheet or change the information currently in there.

How to write a journal entry

Saving the journals

If you want to keep a record of all journals you enter you will need to copy and paste (values only) the journal results into a new sheet after every journal you enter. This template will not do it automatically. Here’s an example:

How to write a journal entry

Basic Accounting Journal Entries

You can download and/or print this list of business transactions and practice entering them into the excel template.

The accounts to use are in red.

You need to make sure you enter the sales transactions into the income sheet.

Enter the purchases transactions into the expenses sheet.

The journal entry examples are here.

The description line is slightly different on the examples.

They say ‘payment to’ instead of ‘purchase from’ as per excel template above but it is fine to use these different phrases which mean the same thing.

A research journal is an important part of any research project. The journal helps the researcher organize and analyze the progress of his project. While there typically is not a specific way a research journal is organized, its content should include information necessary to show the direction of the research as well as the progress made each day toward the end result. A good research journal is written to record the process of the project and to help keep you on target.

Write the names of all researchers, the topic of your research project and the research question or problem on the inside cover of your journal. The topic, for example, might be drug addiction. The question or problem might be the effects of drug addiction on society.

Make an initial entry that summarizes the research and experiments you plan to undertake. You can write in first person. If you’re working with another researcher, make sure that each of you indicates his name on any journal entry for clarification. Write clearly and with as many details as you can. A research journal should be rich in detail, including any experiments you do, dates, times and results.

Finish each daily journal entry with a summary of what was accomplished in the day’s research and how you feel about what you accomplished. If you feel you are heading in the wrong direction, write a couple of suggestions that will take you in a better direction. Include a paragraph or two that explains why your current research will not take you in the direction you need to go. If nothing is accomplished on a day’s research, be sure to note that information. Copious documentation is key to successful journal entries.

Begin each new journal entry with a brief synopsis of the research or experiments that went on the previous day. Brainstorm with yourself on paper. Write down a few random thoughts about your project and make notes about how to put those ideas into motion. Record the day’s events and finish with another summary, adding specific progress you made over the previous day’s work. Conclude with a suggestion or two about where you will go with the next session.