What Is Double-Entry Bookkeeping? A Simple Guide for Small Businesses


The double-entry system also requires that for all transactions, the amounts entered as debits must be equal to the amounts entered as credits. Once the transaction is complete, a debit entry of $1,500 is added to the asset account, and a corresponding credit entry for the same amount is recorded to assets because of the cash spent. Double-entry accounting and double-entry bookkeeping both use debits and credits to record and manage financial transactions. The total debit and credit sides of all general ledger accounts should always be equal in double entry accounting. 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.

A double-entry accounting software program helps you keep track of your financial transactions and typically includes features like a general ledger, accounts receivable and payable, and a trial balance. This program can identify revenue and expenses, calculate profits and losses, and run automatic checks and balances to notify you if something needs your attention. Double-entry bookkeeping is an accounting system that rules that for every entry into one account, an equal entry must be made in another account. Said to date back to the 11th century, double-entry bookkeeping maintains that there must be an equal debit for every credit a company records in its accounting system. These transactions are recorded in a company’s general ledger, in individual nominal codes. From the general ledger, you can derive a trial balance that is made up of the sum of all the nominal accounts.

  • While it will take time to master, there are numerous guides, tutorials, and tips online that can help.
  • If you were using single-entry accounting, you would simply reduce your bank account balance by $500.
  • When a company borrows funds from a creditor, the cash balance increases, but the balance of the company’s debt increases by the same amount.
  • There are recorded instances of double-entry bookkeeping from as far back as 70 A.D.
  • The company’s asset account Cash is increased with a debit entry of $10,000 and the company’s liability account Loans Payable is increased with a credit entry of $10,000.
  • Chatting with your trusted financial professional is always the best way to get specific advice on growing your own business.

If a business ships a product to a customer, for example, the bookkeeper will use the customer invoice to record revenue for the sale and to post an accounts receivable entry for the amount owed. Double-entry bookkeeping is an important concept that drives every accounting transaction in a company’s financial reporting. Business owners must understand this concept to manage their accounting process and to analyze financial results. Use this guide to learn about the double-entry bookkeeping system and how to post accounting transactions correctly. Double-entry bookkeeping is the process most businesses use to produce their financial statements. If a transaction takes place, at least two entries need to be made; a debit and a credit.


Liabilities are also worth $25,000, which, in this case, comes in the form of a bank loan. The governing principle of double entry bookkeeping is that every financial transaction has equal and opposite effects in a minimum of two different accounts. Accounts are more accurate by posting transactions to the correct account. By adding a purchase invoice, the software will post to accounts payable and expense accounts. When making a double entry transaction, you may make the adjustments on the same side of the equation. If using the example of purchasing a computer at 500.00, they use the bank account instead of using credit.


Understanding Double Entry

Every entry to an account requires a corresponding and opposite entry to a different account. The double-entry system has two equal and corresponding sides known as debit and credit. A transaction wave software for water treatment plant design in double-entry bookkeeping always affects at least two accounts, always includes at least one debit and one credit, and always has total debits and total credits that are equal.

  • It requires two entries to be recorded when one transaction takes place.
  • The double-entry system requires a chart of accounts, which consists of all of the balance sheet and income statement accounts in which accountants make entries.
  • An example is looking at the assets account, and the balance seems too high.
  • The chart of accounts is a different category group for the financial transactions in your business and is used to generate financial statements.
  • A simple example is that if a sales invoice is issued, there will be an entry in the sales (profit and Loss Account), and the customer account increased (Debtors).

There will be a debit entry for each credit entry, and both sides will be an equal amount. In the field of accounting, double-entry bookkeeping is the most common method of recording and documenting financial transactions. Once your chart of accounts is set up and you have a basic understanding of debits and credits, you can start entering your transactions. This includes the ability to catch math mistakes and the benefit of having detailed financial information that offers insights into financial performance. It also speeds up the process of compiling data relevant to making key financial statements, such as an income statement and net worth statement.

Income Statement

Equity may include any contributions the owners have made to the company, plus the company’s profits or minus the company’s losses. To account for the credit purchase, entries must be made in their respective accounting ledgers. Because the business has accumulated more assets, a debit to the asset account for the cost of the purchase ($250,000) will be made.

The Double-Entry Accounting System

By completing double entry bookkeeping the business can track stock, debtors, creditors, banks, assets, and liabilities much easier than using a single entry system. This is essential for Limited Companies for submitting year-end accounts to Companies House. Use it to illustrate how the debits and credits of a transaction affect a particular account. When recording transactions in a t-account, debits are always entered on the left side of the t-account and credits are always entered on the right side of the t-account. If you’ve previously used a single entry accounting system, you may be wondering how to go about switching to a double entry system. Most modern accounting software has double entry concepts already built-in.

Thus, every transaction affects at least two accounts, so recording transactions in this way is called double entry bookkeeping. When you add all the debits together, they must be equal to the sum of all credits – this is the defining standard for modern accounting and it enhances the accuracy of financial statements. A double entry bookkeeping system makes it easier to produce accounting reports and reduces errors. The easiest way to set up a double entry system is to use accounting software. When making any debit or credit an equal and opposite transaction must take place.

Time Value of Money

Or, FreshBooks has a simple accounting solution for small business owners with no accounting background. 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. Double-entry bookkeeping’s financial statements tell small businesses how profitable they are and how financially strong different parts of their business are. When you pay for the domain, your advertising expense increases by $20, and your cash decreases by $20.

Because the double-entry system is more complete and transparent, anyone considering giving your business money will be a lot more likely to do so if you use this system. Very small, new businesses may be able to make do with single-entry bookkeeping. A bakery purchases a fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks on credit; the total credit purchase was $250,000. The new set of trucks will be used in business operations and will not be sold for at least 10 years—their estimated useful life. A bachelor’s degree in accounting can provide you with the necessary skills to start an entry-level role as an accountant. There are recorded instances of double-entry bookkeeping from as far back as 70 A.D.


This complexity can be time-consuming as well as more costly; however, in the long run, it is more beneficial to a company than single-entry accounting. To illustrate double entry, let’s assume that a company borrows $10,000 from its bank. The company’s Cash account must be increased by $10,000 and a liability account must be increased by $10,000. Hence, the account Cash will be debited for $10,000 and the liability Loans Payable will be credited for $10,000. In this example, the company would debit $30,000 for the machine, credit $5,000 in the cash account, and credit $25,000 in a bank loan accounts payable account. The debit entry increases the wood account and cash decreases with a credit so that the total change in assets equals zero.

Depending on your business, your GL will contain several of each type of account. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. A second popular mnemonic is DEA-LER, where DEA represents Dividend, Expenses, Assets for Debit increases, and Liabilities, Equity, Revenue for Credit increases. This article compares single and double-entry bookkeeping and explains the pros and cons of both systems. Amanda Bellucco-Chatham is an editor, writer, and fact-checker with years of experience researching personal finance topics. Specialties include general financial planning, career development, lending, retirement, tax preparation, and credit.





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