Understanding the Trial Balance: What's a Credit and What's a Debit?

Updated on March 11, 2020
Hayley Richardson profile image

Hayley has studied bookkeeping and enjoys writing about it to help others demystify some of the tricky concepts involved in the process.

The trial balance is a useful self-check tool for bookkeepers, but in order to use it correctly, it's important to know which accounts are in the debit column and which are in the credit column.
The trial balance is a useful self-check tool for bookkeepers, but in order to use it correctly, it's important to know which accounts are in the debit column and which are in the credit column. | Source

The principles of double-entry bookkeeping are not that easy. It's simple to say that for every debit, there is a credit, but when it comes to actually entering transactions into the accounts, it can be difficult 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 (e.g., the book of prime entry, the ledger accounts, the control account, and the subsidiary ledger).

This article focuses on the trial balance, which is an accuracy check done after all transactions have been input. The trial balance can tell you if you've mistyped an entry, forgotten half of a double entry, or incorrectly balanced an account.

What Is a Trial Balance?

A trial balance is a list of the balances of all of a business's general ledger accounts. If the total of all debit values equals the total of all credit values, then the accounts are correct—at least as far as the trial balance can tell. If the sum of all credits does not equal the sum of all debits, then there is an error in one of the accounts.

While it may not pick up all possible accounting mistakes, the trial balance is a useful tool when it comes to locating errors in accounts. Most of what is included on the trial balance is simple enough to fill in so long as you know what is a debit and what is a credit in the general ledger. There are, however, a few entries that it's easy to be stumped by, so I've laid out the table below to indicate where each account balance should be placed and what category it falls under.

Which Accounts Are Debits and Which Are Credits?

(click column header to sort results)
Category  
Debit  
Credit  
Income
 
Sales
Expense
Sales Returns
 
Asset
Sales Ledger Control
 
Expense
Purchases
 
Income
 
Purchase Returns
Liability
 
Purchase Ledger Control
Income
 
Discounts Received
Expense
Discounts 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
 
Overdrafts
Liability
 
Loans
Liability
 
Taxes Owed
Asset
Tax Rebates Due
 
Capital
 
Capital
Drawings
Drawings
 
This is a general overview of common accounts used by many businesses. Actual trial balances may include many accounts not listed here.

Hopefully, this will give you some help when it comes to studying trial balances. Don't worry if you forget a particular account in a basic accounting exam—the bottom line is that the totals for each column should be equal, and any difference indicates a misallocated figure in an account.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Discount (cr) 

      4 weeks ago

      Which side in trial balance

    • profile image

      Sakib 

      6 weeks ago

      In trail balance sheet which side is advace sublet??

    • profile image

      jovan 

      2 months ago

      the trial balance is simply but the thing which makes it to be difficult if u dont know the debited and credited.

    • profile image

      Elizabeth Kizzy 

      2 months ago

      I love financial account

    • profile image

      Hamsa 

      2 months ago

      Could you check if the double entries i made where correct?

    • profile image

      Sarim 

      2 months ago

      Where does factory rent come in trial balance

    • profile image

      Simran 

      3 months ago

      Closing and opening stock ???

    • profile image

      Rajni 

      3 months ago

      What about shares in zee leam, apprentice premium,claim paid to customers, allowance from suppliers?????

    • profile image

      Rohan Gulati 

      3 months ago

      Interest received

      A

    • profile image

      Hari bangari 

      5 months ago

      Thanks this is helpful for me

    • profile image

      Sonia 

      5 months ago

      This is helpful, thank you.

    • profile image

      Riya 

      6 months ago

      Discount on purchases

    • profile image

      Mustafa 

      7 months ago

      Import duty come in dr. Or cr.

    • profile image

      preeti 

      7 months ago

      deposits with g.

    • profile image

      Sushant 

      8 months ago

      Other income

    • profile image

      Return in wards 

      10 months ago

      Trial balance

    • profile image

      Guru 

      10 months ago

      On which basis the Due from customers is to be considered in trial balance

    • profile image

      sumit 

      11 months ago

      Intrest on loan become which side debet or credit and why?

    • profile image

      Cheryl Grimes 

      11 months ago

      I made a transfer from savings to checking today for 1000.00 how can i verify that?

    • profile image

      Rohan Tamang 

      12 months ago

      Double entry system

    • profile image

      Johnny sins 

      14 months ago

      What ?

    • profile image

      Dipak 

      16 months ago

      The entry of interest on bank loan in trial balance

    • profile image

      Phynah 

      16 months ago

      How about reserve fund

    • profile image

      Treatment of interest paid 

      16 months ago

      What will be the tretment for this

    • profile image

      Felix 

      16 months ago

      The information is very useful

    • profile image

      Tapiwa Nyoni 

      17 months ago

      Thanks the information it is very useful

    • profile image

      Jatin sharma 

      17 months ago

      Thanq so nuch for this help

    • profile image

      Kimberleyf 

      17 months ago

      Carriage inwards - the business ordered something and they are paying for delivery. This is shown as a debit.

    • profile image

      minakshi 

      18 months ago

      how to carrige inward

    • profile image

      Maisey 

      18 months ago

      My ledger is equal on both sides debit and credit for accounts receivable for the month do I have to enter Accounts Receivable in the Trial Balance. I am doing a one month general ledger with no opening bank balance the business has spent more money this month for cash at bank the balance b/d is on the credit side do I enter the difference in the trial balance on the credit side?

    • profile image

      Dash dash 

      18 months ago

      Where do we wriye discount on purchases and discount on sales in trial balance

    • profile image

      Larryrogers 

      18 months ago

      Checking accoint?

    • profile image

      Fathima 

      18 months ago

      Bad debts and recovers debts will appear in trial balance? If so which side

    • profile image

      is loan interest debit or credit 

      18 months ago

      very useful thanks

    • profile image

      Robin 

      18 months ago

      Trade and office expanses, is debit or credit balance in trial balance

    • profile image

      Lucky  

      19 months ago

      This is very useful to us

    • profile image

      Lucky 

      19 months ago

      This was very useful. Thank you soo much

    • profile image

      Lokie 

      19 months ago

      Very useful

    • profile image

      Maria Petrus 

      19 months ago

      does trial balance record things bought on credit?

    • profile image

      Neha Randive 

      19 months 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 

      20 months ago

      is workmen compensation fund is debit or credit ?

    • profile image

      Nidhi Garg 

      20 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Subhi 

      20 months ago

      Answer for income tax is not given.

    • profile image

      Donessa 

      21 months ago

      Where should I put the Freight in and freight out?

    • profile image

      samuel 

      21 months ago

      wow, thanks for that valuable information

    • profile image

      Suraj salunkhe 

      22 months ago

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

    • profile image

      22 months ago

      Inters on lone is on Dr. Side

    • profile image

      Joel Rozario 

      22 months ago

      Carriage is debit or credit???

    • profile image

      1234 

      22 months ago

      interest on loan

    • profile image

      Swecha 

      22 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Kabira noh 

      23 months ago

      This is good... Maybe add more categoriea

    • profile image

      Josephine Loke 

      23 months ago

      Depreciation of Assets should be credit side of Trial Balance?

    • profile image

      23 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Ria 

      24 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Madhavi 

      2 years ago

      Due from customers is debit or credit

    • profile image

      nikhilesh singh 

      2 years ago

      how to identify debit and credit

    • profile image

      syed akbar 

      2 years ago

      use full nice

    • profile image

      Mitali 

      2 years ago

      Thanks it worked actually

    • profile image

      Chetan reddy 

      2 years ago

      Unproductive wages is debit or credit

    • profile image

      Nishant Agnihotri 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Suranjeetha Tripathy 

      2 years ago

      What is the position for reserve fund

    • profile image

      Animated 

      2 years ago

      Yayyy for Trial Balance

    • profile image

      Chandrakant 

      2 years ago

      Outstanding D or c

    • profile image

      ashwini 

      2 years ago

      discount recevied is credit or debit

    • profile image

      Pragati 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      reshma 

      2 years ago

      Where dividend collected should be posted in trial balance

    • profile image

      Hellen Nabwire 

      2 years ago

      Information has helped so much

    • profile image

      Jasmine 

      2 years ago

      Rates in Trial Balance are debit so the category

      is expenses or current assets?

    • profile image

      Tosif khan 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Anu 

      2 years ago

      Carriage outward is dr or cr

    • profile image

      ajanya p v 

      2 years ago

      long term investment debit or credit balance?

    • profile image

      Sahil 

      2 years ago

      Reserve fund is Dr or cr ?

    • profile image

      Wilson 

      2 years ago

      Interest on capital is c or d

    • profile image

      Saurabh kesarwani 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      tikka 

      2 years ago

      goodwill is an asset therefore it is debited

    • profile image

      Chayanjit 

      2 years ago

      Capital overdrawn come under dr or cr ?

    • profile image

      Ani 

      2 years ago

      Investment ta ki dr or cr????

    • profile image

      Bidhan 

      2 years ago

      Reserve fund is Dr or cr

    • profile image

      Sudeesh 

      2 years ago

      Thank u for that brief explanation...

    • profile image

      Shweta 

      2 years ago

      Goodwill a/c will be debited or credited?

    • profile image

      Rishab 

      2 years 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 

      2 years ago

      Where will be an outstanding expense

    • profile image

      Narayan 

      2 years ago

      Permises will be debit or credit

    • profile image

      monbebe 

      2 years ago

      is owner's withdrawal debit?

    • profile image

      soledad 

      2 years ago

      wow thank you so much it helped

    • profile image

      pratvi 

      2 years ago

      insurance will be credit or debit ??

    • profile image

      Sumit Chaurasia 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Maira 

      2 years ago

      Bad debts written off come under which column

    • profile image

      Trishanka Debnath 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Tokley 

      2 years ago

      Easy to understand. Thank you

    • profile image

      Indu 

      2 years ago

      Business premises in trial balance will come under debit or credit

    • profile image

      Victor 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Arjun Kalia 

      2 years ago

      Very helpful. Nice post.

    • profile image

      lolitsme 

      2 years ago

      thank you so so so muchh

    • profile image

      Carolyn 

      2 years 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 

      3 years ago

      This article was so helpful. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Tabassum 

      3 years ago

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

    • profile image

      student1 

      3 years ago

      thank you, this was very helpful

    • profile image

      parag 

      3 years ago

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

      expense is direct approach.

      liability is something you have to pay.

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