Trial Balance: Understanding Its Fundamentals and Importance in Accounting

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It is prepared at the end of a particular period to indicate the correct nature of the balances of various accounts. A balanced trial balance ascertains the arithmetical accuracy of financial records. The potential for human error in the trial balance preparation process is another area of concern. This can occur during various stages of the accounting process, such as the initial data entry, categorization and grouping of transactions, and the calculation and transcription of balances. Errors can also creep in during the transfer of amounts from ledger accounts to the trial balance.

Rerun the after making adjusting entries and again after making closing entries. A trial balance is a list of all the general ledger accounts (both revenue and capital) contained in the ledger of a business. This list will contain the name of each nominal ledger account in the order of liquidity and the value of that nominal ledger balance. Each nominal ledger account will hold either a debit balance or a credit balance. The debit balance values will be listed in the debit column of the trial balance and the credit value balance will be listed in the credit column. The trading profit and loss statement and balance sheet and other financial reports can then be produced using the ledger accounts listed on the same balance.

Accuracy and transparency are the norms that genuinely sustainable organizations uphold and trial balance plays an integral role in fulfilling them. A meticulous and error-free trial balance can contribute boutifully towards upholding these standards. Comprehending its accuracy is crucial since it imparts companies with insights about their profitable and non-profitable areas so they can make prudent decisions about cutting waste and reducing environmental impact. In general, the components of a trial balance give a snapshot of a company’s financial standing at a given point in time. By systematically presenting these components, the trial balance can provide valuable insight into the financial strength, profitability, and overall health of a business.

  1. This trial balance has the final balances in all the accounts, and it is used to prepare the financial statements.
  2. If the sum of debits does not equal the sum of credits, an error has occurred and must be located.
  3. This list will contain the name of each nominal ledger account in the order of liquidity and the value of that nominal ledger balance.
  4. A trial balance is often the first step in an audit procedure, because it allows auditors to make sure there are no mathematical errors in the bookkeeping system before moving on to more complex and detailed analyses.

This financial report is not only significant in balancing the debits and credits of an organization’s financial entries, but it also enables a business to demonstratively show its commitment to sustainable practices. The balance sheet is another key statement that is derived from the trial balance. The asset, liability, and equity accounts from the trial balance are used to construct a balance sheet. This statement portrays a snapshot of the company’s financial position at the end of a specific period. Within an audit, any discrepancies or inaccuracies in the trial balance can be identified and rectified before they impact the financial reports or the final accounts.

Types of Trial Balances

Accounts Payable ($500), Unearned Revenue ($4,000), Common Stock ($20,000) and Service Revenue ($9,500) all have credit final balances in their T-accounts. These credit balances would transfer to the credit column on the unadjusted trial balance. This is called a “closing entry.” If the company earned a profit, the retained earnings account will be increased. If the company experienced a loss, the retained earnings account will be reduced. The resulting opening balance for the new accounting period will still have columns of equal sum totals. This trial balance has the final balances in all the accounts, and it is used to prepare the financial statements.

Not all accounts in the chart of accounts are included on the TB, however. Usually only active accounts with year-end balance are included in the TB because accounts with zero balances don’t make it on the financial statements. For example, if a company had a vehicle at the beginning of the year and sold it before year-end, the vehicle account would not show up on the year-end report because it’s not an active account.


Arthur Andersen was the auditing firm in charge of independently verifying the accuracy of Enron’s financial statements and disclosures. This meant they would review statements to make sure they aligned with GAAP principles, assumptions, and concepts, among other things. Let’s now take a look at the T-accounts and unadjusted trial balance for Printing Plus to see how the information is transferred from the T-accounts to the unadjusted trial balance. This method is less commonly used but can provide additional information about the balances and totals of ledger accounts. Instead of transferring individual balances, each ledger account’s entire debit and credit sides are summed up and transferred. Under balance method, only the balances of all the ledger accounts are shown in the trial balance.

Adjusting entries capture transactions or events that have occurred but are not yet reflected in the original account balances. When implemented effectively, these remedies can help ensure the ongoing accuracy of a company’s trial balance, maintaining trust and compliance while facilitating informed decision-making. Moreover, employing highly skilled and experienced accountants and bookkeepers helps exponentially. They have the ability to identify errors and rectify them before they escalate into larger problems.

Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. Personal account – includes all accounts related to individuals, firms, and associations. Having explained these components individually, it’s important to understand how they collectively contribute to a company’s financial standing. ✅ All InspiredEconomist articles and guides have been fact-checked and reviewed for accuracy.


As the name suggests, it is an actual “trial” of the debit and credit balances, they should be equal. 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. The adjusted amounts make up the adjusted trial balance, and the adjusted amounts will be used in the organization’s financial statements.

This method ensures that each account’s balance accurately represents in the TB. The total debit balances will match the credit balances if the general ledger is accurate. Businesses prepare a trial balance regularly, usually at the end of the reporting period to ensure that the entries in the books of accounts are mathematically correct. Companies can use a trial balance to keep track of their financial position, and so they may prepare several different types of trial balance throughout the financial year. A trial balance may contain all the major accounting items, including assets, liabilities, equity, revenues, expenses, gains, and losses. There are no special conventions about how trial balances should be prepared, and they may be completed as often as a company needs them.

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. Bookkeepers and accountants or small business owners use different types of trial balance, depending on the stage of the accounting cycle close. Some small businesses less efficiently use Google Sheets or Excel worksheets or templates for preparing their trial balance documents.

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. 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. A trial balance is a bookkeeping worksheet in which the balances of all ledgers are compiled into debit and credit account column totals that are equal. A company prepares a trial balance periodically, usually at the end of every reporting period. The general purpose of producing a trial balance is to ensure that the entries in a company’s bookkeeping system are mathematically correct.

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