Fundamentals of Double-Entry Bookkeeping in Accounting Training

type of account

Post entries to your general ledger with the double-entry system of bookkeeping. Single-entry accounting is less complex than double-entry accounting. With the single-entry system, you record cash disbursements and cash receipts.


The debit entry will be recorded on the debit side (left-hand side) of a general ledger account, and the credit entry will be recorded on the credit side (right-hand side) of a general ledger account. If the total of the entries on the debit side of one account is greater than the total on the credit side of the same nominal account, that account is said to have a debit balance. In accounting, the terms “debit” and “credit” have a specific meaning that differs from the colloquial use of the words (as in “debit cards” or “bank credits”).

A double-entry accounting cheat sheet

If you want your business to be taken seriously—by investors, banks, potential buyers—you should be using double-entry. Double-entry provides a more complete, three-dimensional view of your finances than the single-entry method ever could. While generally straightforward, these entries can become increasingly complex when more than two accounts are involved. Owner’s equity through the disbursement of cash to pay for the ad.

  • The double-entry accounting method was invented way back in the 17th century primarily to resolve business transactions and make trade more efficient between traders.
  • Start with your existing cash balance for a given period, then add the income you receive and subtract your expenses.
  • Post journal entries to your general ledger with the double-entry system of bookkeeping.
  • Let’s explore some real-world examples of double-entry accounting for common business transactions.
  • That means you match every transaction in your accounting software to its corresponding bank statement.
  • A bakery purchases a fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks on credit; the total credit purchase was $250,000.

He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A second popular mnemonic is DEA-LER, where DEA represents Dividend, Expenses, Assets for Debit increases, and Liabilities, Equity, Revenue for Credit increases.

Are There Any Cons to Double Entry Accounting?

The first entry to the general ledger would be a debit to Cash, increasing the assets of the company, and a credit to Equity, increasing Lucie’s ownership stake in the company. Double-entry bookkeeping is the concept that every accounting transaction impacts a company’s finances in two ways. The general ledger is the record of the two sides of each transaction.

What is meant by double-entry accounting?

True to its name, double-entry accounting is a standard accounting method that involves recording each transaction in at least two accounts, resulting in a debit to one or more accounts and a credit to one or more accounts.

The chart below summarizes the differences between single entry and double entry accounting. The chart below summarizes the impact of a debit and credit entry on each type of account. Credit to Asset → On the other hand, if the effect on the asset account’s balance is a reduction, the account would be credited, i.e. the right side of the accounting ledger. Furthermore, single-entry accounting cannot provide a complete picture of a company’s financial health. In this system, only cash inflows and outflows are recorded, identifying when cash is available versus when it is actually earned.

Deciding if double-entry accounting is right for you

Take a deep dive into what What Is Double Entry Accounting & Bookkeeping? bookkeeping is and how to use it for your small business. A sub-ledger may be kept for each individual account, which will only represent one half of the entry. The general ledger, however, has the record for both halves of the entry.

  • The reason is that the total of the debit balances will still be equal to the total of the credit balances.
  • Just like the accounting equation, the total debits and total credits must balance at all times under double-entry accounting, where each transaction should result in at least two account changes.
  • Regardless of which version of history is most accurate, double-entry accounting has been around for a long time and is the bedrock on which accounting rests.
  • Bookkeeping and accounting track changes in each account as a company continues operations.
  • Double-entry accounting is also the foundation for accrual-basis accounting.

A journal is a detailed account that records all the financial transactions of a business to be used for future reconciling of official accounting records. The accounting equation defines a company’s total assets as the sum of its liabilities and shareholders’ equity. Single-entry bookkeeping is a record-keeping system where each transaction is recorded only once, in a single account. This system is similar to tracking your expenses using pen and paper or Excel. Small businesses can use double-entry bookkeeping as a way to monitor the financial health of a company and the rate at which it’s growing. This bookkeeping system ensures that there is a record of every financial transaction, which helps to prevent fraud and embezzlement.

The purpose of double-entry bookkeeping is to allow the detection of financial errors and fraud. Accounts receivable decreases while the cash account increases. Once again the credit and debit balance the asset side of the accounting equation. A simpler version of accounting is single entry accounting, which is essentially a cash basis system that is run from a check book. Under this approach, assets and liabilities are not formally tracked, which means that no balance sheet can be constructed.


Accounting EquationAccounting Equation is the primary accounting principle stating that a business’s total assets are equivalent to the sum of its liabilities & owner’s capital. This is also known as the Balance Sheet Equation & it forms the basis of the double-entry accounting system. A bookkeeper makes the same entry in two places to reflect two different transaction scenarios. As a company’s business grows, the likelihood of clerical errors increases. Although double-entry accounting does not prevent errors entirely, it limits the effect any errors have on the overall accounts.

What is Double Entry Accounting?

While double-entry bookkeeping has a long and rich history, its principles are still as important today as they were hundreds of years ago. Even today, it’s still the industry standard for bookkeeping and accounting practices. As a result, learning double-entry bookkeeping is an important part of any accounting training, alongside more modern skills like learning how to use cutting-edge computer programs. Even though single-entry accounting is easier to implement, it has significant disadvantages compared to double-entry accounting. As a result of the lack of a balanced method of control, single-entry accounting is more susceptible to errors, specifically duplications, and omissions.

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Posted: Thu, 16 Mar 2023 11:17:00 GMT [source]

This is how you would record your coffee expense in single-entry accounting. If you’re a freelancer, sole entrepreneur, or contractor, chances are you’ve been using single-entry accounting, especially if you aren’t using accounting software. The theoretical value of the business that would be distributed to the owners after the assets were sold and the liabilities paid. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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