double entry accounting definition

If you’d rather not have to deal with accounting software at all, there are bookkeeping services like Bench (that’s us), that use the double-entry system by default. That’s a win because financial statements can help you make better decisions about what to spend money on in the future. Because you bought the inventory on credit, your accounts payable account also increases by $10,000. The double-entry system is more complex compared to the single-entry system. The total debits and credits in an accounting system must always be equal just like the equation itself. A double entry accounting system established the accounting equation where assets must always equal liabilities plus owner’s equity.

double entry accounting definition

Sole proprietors, freelancers and service-based businesses with very little assets, inventory or liabilities. Debits are typically located on the left side of a ledger, while credits are located on the right side. The idea behind the double entry system is that every business transaction affects multiple parts of the business. For example, when a company receives a loan from a bank, cash is received and an obligation is owed. NetSuite cloud financials and accounting software helps finance leaders design, transform and streamline their processes and operations. NetSuite seamlessly couples core finance and accounting functions, which improves business performance while reducing back-office costs.

How to Use Double-Entry Accounting

These errors can ironically make this “safer” system more inaccurate than the single-entry alternative. A double entry accounting system requires a thorough understanding of debits and credits. 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. Our second double entry bookkeeping example is for a business that invoices a customer (the debtor) for services of £200 for payment at a later date.

Plus, this procedure provides a complete and accurate picture of a business’s financial position, among other benefits. In the double-entry accounting system, at least two accounting entries are required to record each financial transaction. These entries may occur in asset, liability, equity, expense, or revenue accounts. If the accounting entries are recorded without error, the aggregate balance of all accounts having Debit balances will be equal to the aggregate balance of all accounts having Credit balances. Regardless of which accounts and how many are involved by a given transaction, the fundamental accounting equation of assets equal liabilities plus equity will hold.

What is a balance sheet, and how do you create one?

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. It’s preferable for tiny businesses or sole proprietors with minimal transactions. However, it does not provide a complete picture of a business’s financial position. As a result, it’s ill-advised for businesses needing richly detailed financial statements. Likewise, this system is inadequate if you oversee many assets or liabilities, such as accounts payable and large amounts of inventory.

By entering transactions properly, your financial statements will always be in balance. The products on the market today are designed with business owners, not accountants, in mind. Even if your knowledge of accounting doesn’t extend beyond Accounting 101, you’ll find most accounting software applications easy to use. While having a record of these transactions is a good first step toward better managing your cash flow, this type of recording doesn’t make clear the impact each transaction has on your business. While this may have been sufficient in the beginning, if you plan on growing your business, you should probably move to using accounting software and double-entry accounting.

Records management: what does it entail?

This means that at any given point of time, the resources of a business are always equal to the claims of the stakeholders. Such stakeholders include business owners and lenders (outsiders) who provide funds to the business. A debit entry might increase one account and at the same time decrease another account. All the business transactions recorded in the books of accounts are based on this principle of accounting.

double entry accounting definition

So, if assets increase, liabilities must also increase so that both sides of the equation balance. The duality principle states that every financial transaction has two parts – a debit and a credit. It means that when there is a debit in one account, there is credit in another account, and vice versa. The use of debits and credits ensures that Affordable Startup Bookkeeping and Accounting Pricing businesses maintain an error-free accounting equation. Due to the complexity of the double-entry system, there is an increased chance of making errors while recording transactions. Mistakes can occur in identifying the accounts affected, determining whether to debit or credit an account and calculating the amounts, among other possibilities.


The list is split into two columns, with debit balances placed in the left hand column and credit balances placed in the right hand column. Another column will contain the name of the nominal ledger account describing what each value is for. The total of the debit column must equal the total of the credit column. For instance, if a business takes a loan from a financial entity like a bank, the borrowed money will raise the company’s assets and the loan liability will also rise by an equivalent amount. If a business buys raw materials by paying cash, it will lead to an increase in the inventory (asset) while reducing cash capital (another asset). Because there are two or more accounts affected by every transaction carried out by a company, the accounting system is referred to as double-entry accounting.

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