Complete Guide to Double-Entry Bookkeeping

When entering business transactions into the accounting software, accountants need to ensure they link and source both the debit and credit entry. Linking each accounting entry to a source document is essential because the process helps the business owner justify each transaction. When using the double-entry accounting system, two things must always be balanced. The general ledger, which tracks debit and credit accounts, must always be balanced.

Each entry has a “debit” side and a “credit” side, recorded in the general ledger. Conversely, liabilities and equity increase when credited and decrease when debited. The double-entry system creates a balance sheet made up of assets, liabilities, and equity. The sheet is balanced because a company’s assets will always equal its liabilities plus equity.

How do you calculate a trial balance using double-entry bookkeeping?

Let’s unlock the power of double entry bookkeeping and equip ourselves with a skill that transcends numbers – a skill that’s key to informed decision-making and financial success. With a double-entry system, credits are offset by debits in a general ledger or T-account. With double-entry bookkeeping, you get a clear view of how your business is doing financially—short and longer term.

  • This dual impact ensures that the equation always maintains equilibrium, reflecting the underlying principles of balance and accuracy.
  • It’s much easier to detect errors using a double-entry system than it is with a single-entry system.
  • You are paired with a dedicated bookkeeping team that prepares accurate financial statements, financial forecasts, and can also pay bills or run payroll for you.
  • For example, an e-commerce company buys $1,000 worth of inventory on credit.
  • Bryan Borzykowski is an award-winning financial journalist, who writes mostly about investing, personal finance and small business.
  • The first step is to set up the chart of accounts where you’ll be recording transactions.

Although single entry bookkeeping is simpler, it’s not as reliable as double entry bookkeeping and isn’t a suitable accounting method for medium to large businesses. In a nutshell, double entry bookkeeping isn’t just about recording transactions; it’s about precision, transparency, and financial control. By following its rules, businesses can keep accurate records, make smart decisions, and handle modern finance complexities.

Q2: What if I’m not good with numbers? Can I still use double entry bookkeeping?

A trained bookkeeper can quickly see how a transaction affects the five big accounts, but it doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It’s a handy link between daily business activities and the five accounting buckets. Pascal [1] says the concept of double-entry bookkeeping often proves tricky to many.


Maintaining accurate records is the lifeblood of double entry bookkeeping. Accurate recording ensures that financial information is trustworthy, enabling businesses to assess their financial health, make informed decisions, and comply with regulatory requirements. Mistakes can lead to financial discrepancies, misinterpretation of data, and costly errors down the line.

What is the single-entry bookkeeping method?

Businesses that meet any of these criteria need the complete financial picture double-entry bookkeeping delivers. This is because double-entry accounting can generate a variety of crucial financial reports like a balance sheet and income statement. When all the accounts in a company’s books have been balanced, the result is a zero balance in each account. The opposite credit entry will be made in the cash account (or bank account) which can be found in the “assets” ledger category. The amount is entered to the general ledger accounts using the debits and credits method. In double entry bookkeeping, there are always two accounts affected by one transaction amount to keep the books in balance.

Traditional Double- Entry Bookkeeping System

Professional services ensure that every dollar that goes in and out of your business is accounted for. If you only list the $250 in expenses at the end of the accounting period. If you’re lucky to remember where the money went, you have your book balanced, but if not, you’ll have discrepancies in your data. Even with little knowledge of accounting, you can surely use them with ease. To help you with the process, here are four crucial steps to start your double-entry bookkeeping system.

If Lucie opens a new grocery store, she may start the business by contributing some of her own savings of $100,000 to the company. 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. Using an accounting software program is one of the easiest ways to start double-entry bookkeeping. After the initial setup of a double-entry system, most software providers charge a monthly subscription fee. Single-entry bookkeeping is a record-keeping system where each transaction is recorded only once, in a single account.

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