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

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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. The basic double-entry accounting structure comes with accounting software packages for businesses. When setting up the software, a company would configure its generic chart of accounts to reflect the actual accounts already in use by the business. Credits to one account must equal debits to another to keep the equation in balance. Accountants use debit and credit entries to record transactions to each account, and each of the accounts in this equation show on a company’s balance sheet.

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. The balance sheet is based on the double-entry accounting system where total assets of a company are equal to the total of liabilities and shareholder equity. In accounting, a debit refers to an entry on the left side of an account ledger, and credit refers to an entry on the right side of an account ledger. To be in balance, the total of debits and credits for a transaction must be equal.

Double Entry: What It Means in Accounting and How It’s Used

When a company borrows money from a bank, the company’s asset Cash is increased and the company’s liability Notes Payable or Loans Payable is increased. In accounting, double entry means that every transaction will involve at least two accounts. Shareholders’ EquityShareholder’s equity is the residual interest of the shareholders in the company and is calculated as the difference double entry accounting between Assets and Liabilities. The Shareholders’ Equity Statement on the balance sheet details the change in the value of shareholder’s equity from the beginning to the end of an accounting period. For example, when people buy something, it becomes a debit from their pocket or bank account, but the product goes into their credit record as they receive it in return.

  • In pre-modern Europe, double-entry bookkeeping had theological and cosmological connotations, recalling “both the scales of justice and the symmetry of God’s world”.
  • Harold Averkamp has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.
  • Every account in the chart holds a number to facilitate its identification in the ledger while reading the financial statements.
  • 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.

Some sources suggest that Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici introduced this method for the Medici bank in the 14th century, though evidence for this is lacking. The accounting equation defines a company’s total assets as the sum of its liabilities and shareholders’ equity. Making a dual entry in two different accounts involved in the transaction indicates the net effect of that transaction. A mismatch of credit and debit sides at any point in time will mean accounting error, which could be easily rectified when the method of accounting used is double entry. Businesses that meet any of these criteria need the complete financial picture double-entry bookkeeping delivers.

The Double-Entry Accounting System

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master’s in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology.

double entry accounting meaning

Although double-entry accounting does not prevent errors entirely, it limits the effect any errors have on the overall accounts. 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. Every business transaction or accounting entry has to be recorded in at least two accounts in the books. The double-entry system began to propagate for practice in Italian merchant cities during the 14th century.

Double-Entry Bookkeeping Examples

As the liabilities are well mentioned, it is easier to identify the financial obligations. There is a unique reporting structure, and, therefore, the records remain well-organized. The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. A second popular mnemonic is DEA-LER, where DEA represents Dividend, Expenses, Assets for Debit increases, and Liabilities, Equity, Revenue for Credit increases. In pre-modern Europe, double-entry bookkeeping had theological and cosmological connotations, recalling “both the scales of justice and the symmetry of God’s world”.

  • Irrespective of the approach used, the effect on the books of accounts remains the same, with two aspects in each of the transactions.
  • The information from the daybooks will be used in the nominal ledger and it is the nominal ledgers that will ensure the integrity of the resulting financial information created from the daybooks .
  • Double-entry bookkeeping ensures that for every entry into an account, there needs to be a corresponding and opposite entry into a different account.
  • The early beginnings and development of accounting can be traced back to the ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia and is closely related to the development of writing, counting, and money.
  • The main purpose of a double-entry bookkeeping system is to ensure that a company’s accounts remain balanced and can be used to depict an accurate picture of the company’s current financial position.
  • These entries may occur in asset, liability, equity, expense, or revenue accounts.