The Trial Balance: Is it a credit or a debit?

Updated on March 10, 2012

The principles of double entry bookkeeping are not easy. It's simple to say that for every debit there is a credit and but when it comes to actually entering transactions into the accounts, it can become tricky to remember if what you are entering is one or the other. It is particularly difficult when you have to enter figures into several accounts (the book of prime entry, the ledger accounts, the control account and the subsidiary ledger).

This article focuses on the trial balance. It is a source of management information and an accuracy check done after the transactions have been input. The trial balance will soon tell you if you've mistyped one entry, forgotten one half of the double entry, or incorrectly balanced an account.

Basic principles

The table below shows the positioning of credits and debits within the general ledger.

Debit
Credit
Drawings
Capital
Assets
Liabilities
Expenses
Income

The trial balance

The trial balance lists the balances of all credits and debits. If the totals are equal then the accounts are correct, as far the trial balance can tell (it will not pick up all possible accounting mistakes). Most of what is on the trial balance is simple enough to fill in when you know what is a debit or a credit in the general ledger. There are, however, a few entries it's easy to be stumped by, so I've laid out a table below that shows where entries should be placed and what category they come under.

Category
Debit
Credit
Income
 
Sales
Expense
Sales return
 
Asset
Sales ledger control
 
Expense
Purchases
 
Income
 
Purchases returns
Liability
 
Purchase ledger control
Income
 
Discount received
Expense
Discount allowed
 
Expense
Wages
 
Expense
Rent
 
Expense
General expenses
 
Asset
Vehicles
 
Asset
Machinery
 
Asset
Office equipment
 
Asset
Property
 
Asset
Stock
 
Asset
Cash in the bank
 
Liability
 
Overdraft
Liability
 
Loans
Liability
 
Tax owing
Asset
Tax rebate due
 
Capital
 
Capital
Drawings
Drawings
 

Hopefully this will give you some help with studying trial balances and don't worry if you forget one in a basic accounting exam- the totals for each column should be equal and any difference will be in a misallocated figure. You should soon be able to work out which one you have entered incorrectly.

Image credit to jannoon028 at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Maria Petrus 

      87 minutes ago

      does trial balance record things bought on credit?

    • profile image

      Neha Randive 

      3 days ago

      If expenses are not specified in tiral balance if it is factory expenses or office than why it will come in profit and loss account

    • profile image

      Kunal handa 

      6 days ago

      is workmen compensation fund is debit or credit ?

    • profile image

      Nidhi Garg 

      2 weeks ago

      if purchase return has debit balance, why should it credited in trial balance?

    • profile image

      Subhi 

      4 weeks ago

      Answer for income tax is not given.

    • profile image

      Donessa 

      5 weeks ago

      Where should I put the Freight in and freight out?

    • profile image

      samuel 

      6 weeks ago

      wow, thanks for that valuable information

    • profile image

      Suraj salunkhe 

      2 months ago

      May I know how did you decide (any trick/logic behind) whether it is credit balance or debit balance

    • profile image

      2 months ago

      Inters on lone is on Dr. Side

    • profile image

      Joel Rozario 

      2 months ago

      Carriage is debit or credit???

    • profile image

      1234 

      2 months ago

      interest on loan

    • profile image

      Swecha 

      2 months ago

      Discount received is debit item ( debit the receiver and credit the giver)

    • profile image

      Kabira noh 

      3 months ago

      This is good... Maybe add more categoriea

    • profile image

      Josephine Loke 

      3 months ago

      Depreciation of Assets should be credit side of Trial Balance?

    • profile image

      4 months ago

      Discount earned on vendor invoice....credit and income account?

    • profile image

      Ria 

      4 months ago

      so what do u put if you have opening and closing inventory

    • profile image

      Madhavi 

      4 months ago

      Due from customers is debit or credit

    • profile image

      nikhilesh singh 

      4 months ago

      how to identify debit and credit

    • profile image

      syed akbar 

      4 months ago

      use full nice

    • profile image

      Mitali 

      4 months ago

      Thanks it worked actually

    • profile image

      Chetan reddy 

      4 months ago

      Unproductive wages is debit or credit

    • profile image

      Nishant Agnihotri 

      5 months ago

      What will be the treatment of Interest on Overdraft in trial balance.

    • profile image

      Suranjeetha Tripathy 

      5 months ago

      What is the position for reserve fund

    • profile image

      Animated 

      6 months ago

      Yayyy for Trial Balance

    • profile image

      Chandrakant 

      6 months ago

      Outstanding D or c

    • profile image

      ashwini 

      6 months ago

      discount recevied is credit or debit

    • profile image

      Pragati 

      6 months ago

      Where we have to put Investment of trial balance for final accounts

    • profile image

      reshma 

      6 months ago

      Where dividend collected should be posted in trial balance

    • profile image

      Hellen Nabwire 

      6 months ago

      Information has helped so much

    • profile image

      Jasmine 

      6 months ago

      Rates in Trial Balance are debit so the category

      is expenses or current assets?

    • profile image

      Tosif khan 

      6 months ago

      My one question is Ram's A/c Dr or Cr ?

    • profile image

      Anu 

      6 months ago

      Carriage outward is dr or cr

    • profile image

      ajanya p v 

      6 months ago

      long term investment debit or credit balance?

    • profile image

      Sahil 

      8 months ago

      Reserve fund is Dr or cr ?

    • profile image

      Wilson 

      8 months ago

      Interest on capital is c or d

    • profile image

      Saurabh kesarwani 

      8 months ago

      If taxes and insurance written in trial balance and in adjustment if prepaid insurance is given then what to do

    • profile image

      tikka 

      8 months ago

      goodwill is an asset therefore it is debited

    • profile image

      Chayanjit 

      8 months ago

      Capital overdrawn come under dr or cr ?

    • profile image

      Ani 

      8 months ago

      Investment ta ki dr or cr????

    • profile image

      Bidhan 

      9 months ago

      Reserve fund is Dr or cr

    • profile image

      Sudeesh 

      9 months ago

      Thank u for that brief explanation...

    • profile image

      Shweta 

      9 months ago

      Goodwill a/c will be debited or credited?

    • profile image

      Rishab 

      11 months ago

      If debit side of a trial balance does not tallied with the credit side, where would you place the diffrence and at what side?

    • profile image

      Manav 

      11 months ago

      Where will be an outstanding expense

    • profile image

      Narayan 

      11 months ago

      Permises will be debit or credit

    • profile image

      monbebe 

      11 months ago

      is owner's withdrawal debit?

    • profile image

      soledad 

      11 months ago

      wow thank you so much it helped

    • profile image

      pratvi 

      12 months ago

      insurance will be credit or debit ??

    • profile image

      Sumit Chaurasia 

      13 months ago

      I like that it is solve my problems very much so it is useful for me..

    • profile image

      Maira 

      13 months ago

      Bad debts written off come under which column

    • profile image

      Trishanka Debnath 

      13 months ago

      I found it useful ....Thanks for helping me

    • profile image

      Tokley 

      14 months ago

      Easy to understand. Thank you

    • profile image

      Indu 

      14 months ago

      Business premises in trial balance will come under debit or credit

    • profile image

      Victor 

      14 months ago

      I love it, you really touched where my lecturer did not.

    • profile image

      Arjun Kalia 

      14 months ago

      Very helpful. Nice post.

    • profile image

      lolitsme 

      14 months ago

      thank you so so so muchh

    • profile image

      Carolyn 

      15 months ago

      Gives the reason why, at the time of closure of the accounts for a retail trade, the first is to close accounts that have a debit balance rather than to close accounts that have a credit balance

    • profile image

      Lolade 

      17 months ago

      This article was so helpful. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Tabassum 

      18 months ago

      sir Capital is where to write debitside or creditside of trial balance

    • profile image

      student1 

      18 months ago

      thank you, this was very helpful

    • profile image

      parag 

      20 months ago

      expense is opposite of income, liability is opposite of asset.

      expense is direct approach.

      liability is something you have to pay.

    • profile image

      Daphne 

      20 months ago

      What is the difference between expense and liability?

    • profile image

      Aartee 

      21 months ago

      Income is credited because it is in our nominal account and the rule for nominal account is profits and income credited and loss and expenses debited.

      What comes in debit what goes out credit is the rule of real account in which assets,purchase and sales comes.

    • profile image

      Samaira 

      22 months ago

      the totals were not equal in my case...

      but I got all of them correct...

    • profile image

      preethi 

      23 months ago

      how to show in trail balance when an asset is sold ????

    • profile image

      andreas 

      23 months ago

      helpful

    • profile image

      Hitler 

      2 years ago

      What about allowance for impairment loss on trade receivables? Is it a debit or credit for this one?

    • profile image

      Samuel 

      2 years ago

      Thank you I was a nervous about a problem but got a good head start so I ll start afresh.

    • profile image

      nadine 

      2 years ago

      Hi, is someone can tell me if its possible to have a rate account credit on a trial balance thank you

    • profile image

      Faar 

      2 years ago

      Useful

    • profile image

      PATRICK 

      2 years ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Kumar 

      2 years ago

      Why is income Credited?

      Income is something that we get.And by "Debit what comes in credit what goes out", should'nt it be debited?

    • profile image

      Amber 

      2 years ago

      So does an account titled simply "vehicles" or anything that says depreciation in it get put in a trial balance?

    • profile image

      ala zubbi 

      3 years ago

      Thanks very helpful

    • profile image

      Obama 

      3 years ago

      just a normal person here no need to say something

    • profile image

      Kus Kus 

      3 years ago

      Interest on Drawing is Income and Interest on Capital is Expense.

    • profile image

      AamnaKhalid 

      3 years ago

      It is very useful .. Thanks ...

    • profile image

      kats 

      3 years ago

      interest on drawing and interest on capital come under which column??

    • profile image

      Robert Burger 

      3 years ago

      "If the totals are equal then the accounts are correct...". Not necessarily.

    • profile image

      Johnd700 

      4 years ago

      Outstanding post, I conceive people should acquire a lot from this web blog its rattling user genial. So much superb info on here dgkdbggdkefd

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)