So what’s Double entry bookkeeping?

Man holding plus and minus symbols

Double entry bookkeeping is an accounting technique that records a debit and credit – for all company transactions.

It’s a type of bookkeeping where every post to an account requires an opposite post to a different account. The “Double entry” has two equal sides – a “debit” and a “credit”

For instance, recording a sale of £1 requires two entries: a “cash” debit of £1 to an account, and a “revenue” credit of £1.


What’s the point?

Double entry accounting reduces errors and boosts the chance of your books balancing. Companies massively benefit from using Double entry bookkeeping because, not only reducing errors, it helps with financial reporting and prevents fraud.

Bookkeeping teaches you how to accurately record transactions into a manual Double entry system. Once you master this skill you can produce accurate financial accounts for your management. If you start at Foundation Certificate (Level 2), you’ll be eased nicely into the topic, whereas Advanced Level (Level 3) offers more detailed look.


Learning it

When delving into the subject you’ll be made aware of concepts such as: account types, debits and credits, using day books, ledgers, account reconciliation, bank reconciliation, suspense accounts, using journals to correct errors and trial balances.

All the above is important when progressing on to the later levels such as Advanced or Professional Level (Level 4), and for working in accounts.


Benefits of Double entry bookkeeping


One reason that Double entry bookkeeping is so accurate is that it implements the “matching principle”. The matching principle makes sure that expenses relate to revenue. Recording both means you’re accurately calculating profit and loss.


Prevent Errors

Human error can distort a company’s financial position. But Double entry bookkeeping reduces the chance of that as it provides checks and balances. Errors are easily caught with Double entry bookkeeping because the debit and credit amounts are equal. Although errors are greatly reduced, it does not entirely prevent error.


Leaves an Audit Trail

Double entry bookkeeping reduces fraud by leaving an adult trail. Audit trails allow you to trace transactions that were posted to the general ledger. For example, if your cash balance seems too high on your balance sheet, you can trace back the transactions made to the cash account and see if they’re accurate.


Financial Statement Preparation

Financial statements are easy to prepare in companies that use Double entry bookkeeping because info is gathered directly from the Double entry bookkeeping transactions. It’s important for companies to produce accurate financial statements quickly and efficiently. Management depend on financial statements to see how the companies performing financially and to create budgets. External users, like investors, depend on financial statements to view a company’s creditworthiness.


Origins of double entry bookkeeping

So where did it come from? History suggests that Double entry bookkeeping was first used by merchants in the Middle Ages. This was a vast improvement from the abacus and early single-entry systems used from the age of Antiquity.

As Double entry bookkeeping became more widely used, it extended to include detailed descriptions of products, income, expenses, loans, bad debt, and more.


Bookkeeping, one of many AAT skills

There are a range of useful accounting skills to learn through AAT.