Trial Balance: Definition, How It Works, Purpose, and Requirements

Trial Balance: Definition, How It Works, Purpose, and Requirements


For each account in the ledger, a trial balance will give an amount for both debits and credits. It allows you to see what money is available at a given point, what is owed to the business, and any problems with the books. The total of debit balance in trial balance should match with a total of credit balance, only then it is said to be arithmetically accurate.

  • A trial balance is a bookkeeping or accounting report that lists the balances in each of an organization’s general ledger accounts.
  • An audit is a thorough inspection to make sure all financial transactions are recorded using the correct process and systems.
  • Once all balances are transferred to the unadjusted trial balance, we will sum each of the debit and credit columns.
  • If the totals don’t match, a missing debit or credit entry, or an error in copying over from the general ledger account may be the cause.
  • Preparing a trial balance for a company serves to detect any mathematical errors that have occurred in the double entry accounting system.

Unfortunately, you will have to go back through one step at a time until you find the error. Compare assets and liabilities of your business with our free template. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, solved: consider the following t-account for cash cash modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. A central concern for any company is that it might lose track of the money coming in and the money going out.

Trial Balance: Definition, Example, Purpose, vs Balance Sheet

However, this does not mean that there are no errors in a company’s accounting system. For example, transactions classified improperly or those simply missing from the system still could be material accounting errors that would not be detected by the trial balance procedure. A trial balance is a bookkeeping or accounting report that lists the balances in each of an organization’s general ledger accounts. A trial balance is an internal document used by the accounting team, management, and auditors. Instead, it serves as the first step in closing the company’s books for the accounting period.

  • It’s also worth pointing out that just because the numbers do balance, that does not mean the books are perfect.
  • This step saves a lot time for accountants during the financial statement preparation process because they don’t have to worry about the balance sheet and income statement being off due to an out-of-balance error.
  • Subtract the smaller number from the larger number and place the remainder in the appropriate column on the trial balance.
  • A trial balance is so called because it provides a test of a fundamental aspect of a set of books, but is not a full audit of them.
  • So, in this example of borrowing money, you credit accounts payable (liability account).

This step entails taking the entries for each sub-account and posting them into the general ledger, which encompasses all of the accounts. For someone unfamiliar with accounting terms and systems, this explanation of trial balance may not make a whole lot of sense. Before looking at an example of a trial balance, let’s first clarify some key terms. As you can see, a trial balance plays a key role in keeping a company’s books accurate and up-to-date. A trial balance provides a quick recap or summary of a given period, and provides a clear idea of where the company stands. A frazzled owner who burns the candle at both ends may deliver a fantastic product, but run things amok on the financial end of things.

How to use the Trial Balance

As you can see, the report has a heading that identifies the company, report name, and date that it was created. The accounts are listed on the left with the balances under the debit and credit columns. When the accounting system creates the initial report, it is considered an unadjusted trial balance because no adjustments have been made to the chart of accounts. This is simply a list of all the account balances straight out of the accounting system. A trial balance just checks if the totals of all credits and debits are balanced.

What is Trial Balance

Due to their similar name, it’s easy to confuse the trial balance with the balance sheet, or to think they’re one and the same. Although each document records similar information, these are separate documents with distinct purposes. As you can see, a trial balance is a fairly simple report to put together. The adaptation of accounting software has made the processes even smoother.

Fortunately, there are tools and systems built to handle this financial complexity. For centuries, double-entry bookkeeping has allowed businesses to identify errors in its books, and continually reap a steady profit, year after year. Since most companies have computerized accounting systems, they rarely manually create a TB or have to check for out-of-balance errors. It’s also worth pointing out that just because the numbers do balance, that does not mean the books are perfect. A trial balance only flags the fact that the accounts are out of balance.

Post Adjusting Entries

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. It’s sometimes the way of things that a business presents a united front, but a glimpse behind the scene reveals a tangled mess. My Accounting Course  is a world-class educational resource developed by experts to simplify accounting, finance, & investment analysis topics, so students and professionals can learn and propel their careers. These are mistakes that go against the fundamentals of book-keeping. For instance, it should be listed under a Purchase Account when you make office stationery purchases rather than a Stationery Account. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.

A trial balance is a worksheet with two columns, one for debits and one for credits, that ensures a company’s bookkeeping is mathematically correct. The debits and credits include all business transactions for a company over a certain period, including the sum of such accounts as assets, expenses, liabilities, and revenues. Companies initially record their business transactions in bookkeeping accounts within the general ledger. Depending on the kinds of business transactions that have occurred, accounts in the ledgers could have been debited or credited during a given accounting period before they are used in a trial balance worksheet. Furthermore, some accounts may have been used to record multiple business transactions.

The adjusted amounts make up the adjusted trial balance, and the adjusted amounts will be used in the organization’s financial statements. Adjusting journal entries aligns expenditures and revenues with the correct accounting period. They are required whenever an invoice or payment doesn’t come in the same month that it was incurred. Once the adjusted trial balance is complete and shows that everything is still in balance, the accounting team can move on to the next step in the process — Preparing the company’s financial statements. A trial balance includes a list of all general ledger account totals. Each account should include an account number, description of the account, and its final debit/credit balance.

Trial Balance vs. Balance Sheet

It can provide an indication for any internal auditing work to do as well. Sub-ledgers are the individual accounts where transactions are first recorded, before being combined with the general ledger. Finally, as previously stated, a trial balance provides account summaries that are critical for putting together a balance sheet and an income statement. It’s good to reference a current trial balance with previous reports, as this helps a company identify transactions or entries that have been overlooked. These are minor errors that do not affect the arithmetic accuracy of the trial balance. For example, the trial balance will be correct if an invoice numbered Bx 396 is recorded as Bx 369 in the sales book, although the invoice’s title is incorrect.

The confusion about credits and debits is that they don’t always mean what you think they do. For instance, notice that the previous example increases the company’s cash and also increases the amount it owes. Finally, if some adjusting entries were entered, it must be reflected on a trial balance. In this case, it should show the figures before the adjustment, the adjusting entry, and the balances after the adjustment. A trial balance allows a company to quickly gauge its books and to know whether or not it’s standing on solid ground.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Recent Posts

About us

John Hendricks
Blog Editor
We went down the lane, by the body of the man in black, sodden now from the overnight hail, and broke into the woods..
Zillion Cars is another Part of a Swedish management company located here in the UAE. The management team of experienced professionals are a diverse team of skilled professionals from serval countries with expansive experience.
Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved | Design by