The purpose of a trial balance

It’s important to note, however, that although performing trial balance accounting can highlight simple mathematical errors, it won’t reveal every problem in your books. Missing transactions or classification errors can occur even when recording the trial balance. The trial balance is also not an official financial statement and is only used internally.

When a transaction skips through being recorded in the Journal or Subsidiary Books, it is considered an error of omission. This can be prepared at various intervals in a business, such as the end of the financial year, half-yearly, quarterly, or monthly. Adjusting entries made to correct timing or recognition issues in the accounts are included.

Gain accounts typically have credit balances, whereas loss accounts typically have debit balances. The trial balance is a bookkeeping or accounting report in which the balances of all the general ledger accounts of the organization are listed in separate credit and debit account columns. The purpose of trial balance balances are usually listed to achieve equal values in the credit and debit account totals. Any deviation from expected values helps to detect errors in the accounting exercise. By now, we are clear that trial balance’s primary objective is to ascertain the accuracy and detecting of errors.

In particular, keeping track of the myriad categories of debits and credits can pose a challenge when navigating these complexities. As part of your review process, ensure that all trial balance accounts are posted to the general ledger. When you migrate to new accounting software systems, errors can occur without proper field mapping during the software conversion process. If the trial balance doesn’t balance, your accounting team should investigate and correct errors. During the accounting close process, check that the trial balance line items are included in the general ledger. Trial balances are not official financial statements; instead, they are internal records.

  1. Stakeholders need to be able to rely on the financial information that a company provides.
  2. As a result, the ending balance of each ledger account as shown in the trial balance worksheet is the sum of all debits and credits that have been entered to that account based on all related business transactions.
  3. Accounting system complexities are also magnified in businesses with multiple revenue streams, numerous cost centers, and varied categories of expenditures.
  4. As such, even though automated tools can significantly lessen the workload, it is unwise to completely depend on them without a secondary layer of verification.
  5. Audits can be internal, meaning that a team working for the organization looks through the books to ensure it’s all up to speed.
  6. The error may have occurred at any of the following stages of accounting.

As such, even though automated tools can significantly lessen the workload, it is unwise to completely depend on them without a secondary layer of verification. Expenses represent outflows or reduction of economic benefits during a specific period. Like income, expenses also include payables and accrued expenditure – costs incurred but not yet paid. Income represents the inflow of economic benefits (i.e., revenues or gains) generated from the operating activities of a company. It's important to remember that income doesn't necessarily mean cash received.

The Account numbers are unique identifiers assigned to each account in the general ledger. A central concern for any company is that it might lose track of the money coming in and the money going out. Nobody wants to run out of cash for a few weeks and be pressured to take out a high interest loan just to cover rent and payroll.


Post the total amount into either the debit or the credit column, depending on if the account is an asset, liability, equity or expense. It’s a fundamental part of the accounting process, and completing a trial balance is one of the final steps for closing the books at the end of an accounting period. Most businesses believe using accounting software gives a sense of reliability that once the transactions are recorded, the reporting aspect is correct and complete. As illustrated in the above trial balance format, all the ledger accounts are represented on the left side. The closing balance of each ledger accounts is shown in the debit side or credit side in the above trial balance example.

The individual balances of each account are transferred to the respective balance columns. In contrast, the total of the debit and credit sides of each account is recorded in the total columns. Next, post each transaction into the correct two accounts, using the double-entry system. Each transaction is recorded into the journal entry for the period, with the debit account above the credit account. A trial balance functions as a checkup for an organization, to identify errors in bookkeeping, or as an indication for places to audit.

Financial Statements From The Trial Balance

They are beneficial in specific ways, but it's essential to understand their limitations. They may only find some problems, such as omitted transactions or categorization errors because they primarily concentrate on mathematical accuracy. This displays the balances before the adjustments, the actual adjusting entries made, and the balances after the adjustments have been incorporated. Adjusting entries capture transactions or events that have occurred but are not yet reflected in the original account balances.

What are the Limitations of a Trial Balance?

This is also referred to as the accounting equation or balance sheet equation. Here, the debit and credit entries prove crucial in maintaining this balance. In the context of a trial balance, debit and credit entries play an integral role.

Sustainability and Trial Balance

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This is used as a first check by auditors to ensure there are no mathematical errors before moving on to more detailed and in-depth investigations, even though it does not give a thorough audit of the accounts. A trial balance allows a company to quickly gauge its books and to know whether or not it’s standing on solid ground. It can provide an indication for any internal auditing work to do as well. Now it’s time to adjust the trial balance and incorporate all of the adjusted entries.

If all debit balances listed in the trial balance equal the total of all credit balances, this shows the ledger's arithmetical accuracy. This trial balance has the final balances in all the accounts, and it is used to prepare the financial statements. The post-closing trial balance shows the balances after the closing entries have been completed. In this way, the trial balance gives a simple way to check that every transaction includes a debit and corresponding credit. This gives you the fundamental basis of your balance sheet, as well as your profit and loss account. You can prepare your trial balance at regular intervals to make sure your books are balanced.

It can impact a company's internal decision-making processes, reporting obligations, and even investor confidence. The typical type of balance for an asset on the balance sheet is a debit balance, whereas the typical balance for a liability account is a credit balance. For example, Cash and Accounts Receivable, Net of the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts, typically have a debit balance, and the Accounts Payable account typically has a credit balance. In this method, the process of totalling the ledger accounts on both sides is followed by balancing the accounts. Account balancing is a process where both sides are tallied by placing the balance on the side where the amount falls short.

Trial Balance entails the accuracy of the financial record and comparing the debit and credit balances in the general ledger accounts to find any possible errors or discrepancies. Each account should include an account number, description of the account, and its final debit/credit balance. In addition, it should state the final date of the accounting period for which the report is created. The main difference from the general ledger is that the general ledger shows all of the transactions by account, whereas the trial balance only shows the account totals, not each separate transaction. The purpose of a trial balance is to ensure that all entries made into an organization's general ledger are properly balanced.