What Are the Different Types of Ledger Software?

Mary McMahon

Ledger software can offer a variety of features to record monetary transactions. It can be roughly divided into freeware and paid software products, which may focus on different types of ledgers or provide flexibility and increased functionality. In addition, some products interface with other accounting software or offer expanded functions to allow people to do things like printing checks and deposit slips. The best choice can depend on a given application and factors like concerns about costs.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

General ledgers act as a final record for virtually all transactions. Ledger software can also manage subledgers used to record assets, liabilities, payroll, and other financial matters. The software can periodically reconcile these accounts into the general ledger and may generate reports on the basis of the recorded information. Some systems also connect to bank accounts to allow for automatic updating when transactions occur, along with flagging of suspicious transactions. Integration with other programs for report generation and communication with things like point of sale systems is available with some programs.

Some types of ledger software offer the ability to generate checks with payroll and vendor information. This allows people to use one software program to maintain records and generate payments, and creating checks automatically debits the ledger appropriately. Deposit slips and reports can also be generated automatically when payments are received and entered into the system. Other streamlining functions ledger software may offer can include different kinds of bookkeeping, currency conversions, and generation of tax documentation.

Free programs tend to have less functionality. Some may be ad-supported, or could have some functions locked until the user pays. For basic accounting, they may be sufficient to manage financial information and track transactions. More advanced ledger software usually requires payment of a license fee. In some cases, monthly subscriptions are also required, if the software offers ongoing support or services in addition to the basic package.

People considering free software may want to consider a trial version of a more advanced program. If they later decide they need new functions, they can upgrade while retaining all the information from the earlier installation of ledger software. Otherwise, they may need to export files, which may not necessarily import correctly into a new program. A computer technician can help with the conversion process in the event software needs to be changed for any reason, and may have specific advice on the best program to use to meet the need and import with a minimum of fuss.

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