Double entry system of Accounting

Abhishek Dayal

The double entry system of accounting is a fundamental concept that underpins modern accounting practices. Introduced by the Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli in the 15th century, this system revolutionized the way businesses record financial transactions, ensuring accuracy, consistency, and completeness. This article explores the principles, mechanics, benefits, and examples of the double entry system, highlighting its enduring relevance in today's financial world.

Table of content (toc)

Principles of the Double Entry System

The double entry system is based on the principle that every financial transaction has a dual effect on a company's accounts. This means that for every debit entry, there must be an equal and corresponding credit entry. The fundamental equation of the double entry system can be summarized as:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

This equation must always be in balance, reflecting the idea that what a company owns (assets) is financed by what it owes (liabilities) and what is invested by the owners (equity).

Mechanics of the Double Entry System

Mechanics of the Double Entry System
Mechanics of the Double Entry System

Debits and Credits

Debit (Dr)

An entry on the left side of an account. Debits increase asset or expense accounts and decrease liability, equity, or revenue accounts.

Credit (Cr)

An entry on the right side of an account. Credits increase liability, equity, or revenue accounts and decrease asset or expense accounts.

Journal Entries

Every transaction is first recorded in a journal as a journal entry. Each entry must include a date, the accounts affected, the amounts to be debited and credited, and a brief description of the transaction.

Ledger Accounts

Journal entries are posted to the respective ledger accounts, which are organized in the chart of accounts. Each ledger account provides a running balance and detailed history of transactions affecting that account.

Trial Balance

At regular intervals, usually at the end of an accounting period, a trial balance is prepared. This is a list of all ledger accounts and their balances, ensuring that total debits equal total credits.

Benefits of the Double Entry System

Benefits of the Double Entry System
Benefits of the Double Entry System

Accuracy and Completeness

The double entry system ensures that every transaction is recorded in at least two accounts, providing a complete record of all financial activities. This reduces the likelihood of errors and omissions.

Financial Statement Preparation

By maintaining detailed and balanced records, the double entry system facilitates the preparation of accurate financial statements, including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Fraud Prevention

The dual recording of transactions creates a system of checks and balances, making it more difficult for fraudulent activities to go unnoticed. Any discrepancy in the accounts is quickly identified and investigated.

Decision Making

Accurate and complete financial records provide valuable information for management to make informed business decisions, plan for the future, and assess financial performance.

Examples of Double Entry Transactions

Purchasing Inventory

A company purchases $5,000 worth of inventory on credit.

Debit Inventory: $5,000

Credit Accounts Payable: $5,000

This entry increases the inventory asset and the accounts payable liability.

Receiving Cash from Customers

A company receives $3,000 in cash from a customer for services rendered.

Debit Cash: $3,000

Credit Revenue: $3,000

This entry increases the cash asset and the revenue earned.

Paying Salaries

A company pays $2,000 in salaries to its employees.

Debit Salaries Expense: $2,000

Credit Cash: $2,000

This entry increases the expense and decreases the cash asset.

The Role of Technology in double entry system

Modern accounting software has automated many aspects of the double entry system, making it easier for businesses to maintain accurate records. These software programs automatically generate journal entries, post them to the ledger, and prepare trial balances and financial statements. This automation reduces the potential for human error and increases efficiency.


The double entry system of accounting is a time-tested method that ensures accuracy, completeness, and transparency in financial reporting. By recording every transaction in two accounts, this system provides a comprehensive view of a company's financial activities, facilitating better decision-making and enhancing trust among stakeholders. Despite advancements in technology, the fundamental principles of the double entry system remain as relevant today as they were centuries ago, underpinning the integrity of modern accounting practices.

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