The purpose of a trial balance

The debit and credit columns both total $34,000, which means they are equal and in balance. However, just because the column totals are equal and in balance, we are still not guaranteed that a mistake is not present. A trial balance is a financial report showing the closing balances of all accounts in the general ledger at a point in time. Creating a trial balance is the first step in closing the books at the end of an accounting period. Use the company’s chart of accounts to locate all of the account names and list them in the first column of the trial balance. Accounts are often ordered by account number, which would be an optional fourth column to the left of the account names.

This number should be equal to the difference in the account total between the beginning and the end of the period. 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. The trial balance is usually prepared by a bookkeeper or accountant who has used daybooks to record financial transactions and then post them to the nominal ledgers and personal ledger accounts.

The trial balance must tally, irrespective of the form of a trial balance. To understand better, we have illustrated a sample trial balance format. Although a double-entry system seems complicated at first, it quickly becomes intuitive and the system provides a company with a solid financial footing. Hopefully, this fills in some gaps and highlights some key terms used when discussing a trial balance. What do you do if you have tried both methods and neither has worked?


Locating an error in the middle of putting the financial statements together can cause a significant headache. So the purpose of a trial balance is to catch any obvious problems before putting too much effort into the process. 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 accounts payable turnover ratio formula example interpretation 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. The purpose of a trial balance is to ensure that all entries made into an organization’s general ledger are properly balanced.

  • For example, Cash has a final balance of $24,800 on the debit side.
  • With modern accounting tools, credit and debit balances are checked against each other automatically, making trial balances somewhat obsolete.
  • Now a new period begins, and the accounting department returns to the first step of collecting and analyzing transactions.

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The trial balance is assumed to be accurate only when the total debit is equal to the credit. As the bookkeepers and accountants examine the report and find errors in the accounts, they record adjusting journal entries to correct them. After these errors are corrected, the TB is considered an adjusted trial balance.

What are the three main uses of a trial balance?

Using the trial balance, all the income and expenses related ledger accounts are compiled to create Profit and loss account and rest are used for preparing a balance sheet. Accountants prepare a trial balance at the end of an accounting period. It is the first step in closing the books for the month, quarter, or year. At that point, the accounting team will begin preparing the financial disclosures for the company.

Trial Balance: Definition, Example, Purpose, vs Balance Sheet

This helps you to see if there are any problems with the books or if there are any anomalies. If everything balances, then there are no issues with your bookkeeping, but if it doesn’t, then you need to find where the differences are. Prepare a trial balance, listing each affected account for the period.

The purpose of the trial balance, in that case, is to get a good overview of the ledger accounts. From there, the auditor can start their exploration into the records and make sure that everything evens out the way it is supposed to. A trial balance is so called because it provides a test of a fundamental aspect of a set of books, but is not a full audit of them. The Trial Balance is designed to show any differences between debits and credits for each account in the ledger. It also shows how much money the company has at that current time, what is owed to it or by it, and if there are any problems with the books. The creation of the financial statements mark the end of the given financial cycle.

Once the trial balance shows equal credits and debits, the accounting team can use it to prepare the official financial statements. The purpose of a trial balance is to prove that the value of all the debit value balances equals the total of all the credit value balances. If the total of the debit column does not equal the total value of the credit column then this would show that there is an error in the nominal ledger accounts. This error must be found before a profit and loss statement and balance sheet can be produced. Whenever any adjustment is performed run trial balance and confirm if all the debit amount is equal to credit amount.

This means that the account balances in the trial balance are manually aggregated into the line items found in the financial statements. From a practical perspective, accounting software packages do not allow users to enter unbalanced entries into the general ledger. This means the trial balance is not needed by entities that have computerized systems.

Accounting software like TallyPrime, is designed to ensure that debit and credit always match at the time of recording the transaction itself. Thus, matching of the trial balance is a ‘Thing of Past’ and the traditional need for someone to depend on trial balance is eradicated. Trial Balance acts as a pre-check before preparing the other financial statements. The following are some of the important objectives of trial balance.

What is a trial balance used for?

Often the cause of the difference was a miscalculation of an account balance, posting a debit amount as a credit (or vice versa), transposing digits within an amount when posting or preparing the trial balance, etc. Imagine that during the month a company purchased a new copy machine for $10,000. As soon as the purchase clears, the company’s cash account is reduced by the $10,000 purchase. When the accountant enters the new equipment into the asset account, they accidentally record the value of the copier as $11,000. When all of the accounts are lined up, you will see that the total credit balance is $1,000 off from the total debit balance. Debits and credits of a trial balance must tally to ensure that there are no mathematical errors.