Double-Entry Accounting Definition, Types, Rules & Examples

double entry accounting meaning

An accounting system tracks the financial activities of a specific asset, liability, equity, revenue or expense. You’ll record each individual account in a ledger and use this information to prepare your financial statements. Records increase and decrease as accounting transactions occur, and this movement represents the diametrical relationship between debits and credits. Tracking the movement of money in and out of the business, also known as debits and credits, is an essential accounting task for small business owners.

For example, consider receiving a check for $5,000 as a vehicle insurance provider. To account for this transaction, $5,000 is entered into the insurance account as a debit. This account will eventually be a charge in the profit and loss account. It follows that the bookkeeping system must always balance, which is a big advantage. Some types of mistakes will cause the system to be out of balance; as a result, the bookkeeper will be alerted to a problem.

Asset Account

In that case, you’d debit your liabilities account $300 and credit your cash account $300. 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. This is reflected in the books by debiting inventory and crediting accounts payable.

double entry accounting meaning

Delivering a personal approach to banking, we strive to identify financial solutions to fit your individual needs. Additionally, the nature of the account structure makes it easier to trace back through entries to find out whether an error originated. In this article, we’ll explain, as simply as we can, everything you need to know when you start setting up your bookkeeping. We strive to empower readers with the most factual and reliable climate finance information possible to help them make informed decisions.

Accounting equation approach

It will eventually contribute to revenue in the profit and loss account. The next activity should help you to understand the importance of both forms of the accounting equation. Although the accounting system you choose will be unique to your business and its industry, business owners are likely to encounter some common situations. The double-entry system can reduce accounting errors because the balancing-out step works like a built-in error check. The accounting equation can be rearranged to shift dividends and expenses to the left side. The difference between the debit side and the credit side is the account balance, either debit or credit.

The chart below summarizes the differences between single entry and double entry accounting. On the general ledger, there must be an offsetting entry for the balance sheet equation (and thus, the accounting ledger) to remain in balance. Gains and losses are the financial results of a company’s non-primary operations and production processes. On the other hand, the losses are recorded when a company loses money through secondary activity.

How to Decide Whether Double-Entry Is Right for My Business

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. Additionally, the balance sheet, where assets minus liabilities equals equity, must also be balanced. The examples below will clarify the rules for double-entry bookkeeping. Double-entry bookkeeping is an accounting method where each transaction is recorded in 2 or more accounts using debits and credits. A debit is made in at least one account and a credit is made in at least one other account.

Additionally, the double-entry system tracks assets, expenses, liabilities, equity and revenue. Remember that debits are always recorded on the left with credits on the right. A transaction that increases your revenue, for example, would be documented as a credit to that particular revenue/income law firm bookkeeping account. Simply put, balancing a business’s books involves recording how money flows in and out of the business and ensuring the entries “balance” each other out. These bookkeeping entries, which appear on a company’s financial statement, are also referred to as debits and credits.

Double-entry accounting also serves as the most efficient way for a company to monitor its financial growth, especially as the scale of business grows. All small businesses with significant assets, liabilities or inventory. So, if assets increase, liabilities must also increase so that both sides of the equation balance. If the bakery’s purchase was made with cash, a credit would be made to cash and a debit to asset, still resulting in a balance. According to, double-entry has its origins in the 1400s when it was used by merchants to keep an accurate record of the goods that they sold.

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 total debit balance of $30,000 matches the total credit balance of $30,000. What causes confusion is the difference between the balance sheet equation and the fact that debits must equal credits. Keep in mind that every account, whether it’s an asset, liability, or equity, will have both debit and credit entries. 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.