Several decades ago there was an unnecessary amount of writing caused by the multiplicity of day-books, the needless journalizing of every entry, and useless transcriptions from book to book. It was discovered that much of this was duplication, still more was needless, and that much elimination was possible. A reaction set in; the pendulum swung to the opposite extreme, and all kinds of condensed systems and combinations were devised, copyrighted, and patented, but have in most cases been abandoned. One enterprising retailer whose small business allowed him ample leisure, even devised a single book which was to take the place of journal, cash book, and ledger. It required no balancing, and in fact was a whole accounting system in itself. Most accountants who have audited such a method when applied to a large concern and where carelessness has existed in the bookkeeping, will testify to the troubles involved by such attempts at simplicity. It must not be gathered from this, however, that columnar books are to be condemned. On the contrary, they are invaluable, but they must be designed and used with judgment.
In considering the number of records it must be remembered that competent accounting calls for no word and no figure beyond those actually necessary. Each transaction must be entered, and be entered clearly, but no more time is required to make these entries in a properly designed series of books than to crowd them into a single volume, which, if the business is large, must necessarily assume clumsy proportions. Also, it is obvious that reference to a set of books in which the entries are properly classified and displayed will be easier and much more satisfactory than is possible under the limitations of a single-volume system.