Double entry accounting definition

double entry accounting meaning

The double-entry system has two equal and corresponding sides known as debit and credit. A transaction 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. The purpose of double-entry bookkeeping is to allow the detection of financial errors and fraud. 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. In accounting, a credit is an entry that increases a liability account or decreases an asset account.

double entry accounting meaning

The accountant should possess both theoretical and practical knowledge of accounting for the proper keeping of accounts under the double-entry system. Therefore, it becomes impossible to follow this system by small business concerns. Under this system, as every transaction is permanently recorded properly and completely, any necessary information can be detected easily in the future. Under this system of accounting, the picture of all incomes or profits is reflected. Under this system, every debit for a certain amount of money will have corresponding credit for an equal amount.

Classification (ledger accounts):

After certain periods, the ledger accounts are balanced and a statement called trial balance is prepared which is further used for determining profit or loss and accessing the financial position of the business. The profit or loss of the business is determined by preparing an account known as profit and loss account or by preparing a statement known as income statement. The financial position of the business on a certain date is evaluated or determined by listing assets and liabilities in a balance sheet. Similarly, another step of an accounting cycle is to prepare financial statements. All financial statements whether a balance sheet, income statement or a cash flow statement use the double-entry system for efficiency and accuracy of financial transactions recorded. For the accounts to remain in balance, a change in one account must be matched with a change in another account.

double entry accounting meaning

The use of debits and credits ensures that businesses maintain an error-free accounting equation. Single-entry bookkeeping allows for transactions to be recorded in one account. After which you will record the same transaction in another account book or journal, but this time you will credit the expense account and law firm bookkeeping debit another asset account. The cash balance declines as a result of paying the commission, which also eliminates the liability. The reason your debit card is called a debit card is because the bank shows your balance as a liability because they owe your money to you—in essence, they are just holding it for you.


This system is similar to tracking your expenses using pen and paper or Excel. Double-entry bookkeeping was developed in the mercantile period of Europe to help rationalize commercial transactions and make trade more efficient. It also helped merchants and bankers understand their costs and profits. Some thinkers have argued that double-entry accounting was a key calculative technology responsible for the birth of capitalism. It is easier to record the transactions properly in the books of accounts following the scientific method of the double-entry system. Since all accounts relating to income and expenditure are maintained properly in the ledger under the double-entry system, it becomes convenient to draw income statement at the end of a particular accounting period.

  • The double-entry system being the reliable system of keeping accounts the submission of reliable income and VAT statement under it is possible based on which income tax and VAT are fixed and paid.
  • The 15th-century Franciscan Friar Luca Pacioli is often credited with being the first to write about modern accounting methods like double-entry accounting.
  • The double entry system helps accountants reduce mistakes, it also helps by providing a good check and balance benefit.
  • The accounting equation forms the foundation of double-entry accounting and is a concise representation of a concept that expands into the complex, expanded, and multi-item display of the balance sheet.
  • 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.
  • He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses.
  • This is because her technology expense assets are now worth $1000 more and she has $1000 less in cash.

For example, consider the entries resulting from an approved expense claim. The amounts are large, so perhaps the expenses were incurred by a senior manager or just possibly a journalist. This is a fundamental and implicit consequence of the double-entry system of accounting, and there are no exceptions. Therefore, if you buy a new factory or if you buy some postage stamps, the appropriate accounts will be debited. This resulted in postings to the Insurance Account and the Bank Account.

What is Double Entry Accounting?

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. The concept was discovered and formally documented by Luca Pacioli, a monk from Venice who included double-entry in his encyclopedia on math in 1494. It is believed that the publication of Pacioli’s book helped to popularize the idea of double-entry bookkeeping.