You’ve probably heard of it, you may well have a good idea of what it is, but many small business owners we’ve spoken to are a bit flummoxed by what a Trial Balance actually is!

A Trial Balance is a list of closing balances of ledger accounts on a certain date and is the first step towards the preparation of financial statements. It is usually prepared at the end of an accounting period to assist in the drafting of financial statements. Ledger balances are segregated into debit balances and credit balances. Asset and expense accounts appear on the debit side of the trial balance whereas liabilities, capital and income accounts appear on the credit side. If all accounting entries are recorded correctly and all the ledger balances are accurately extracted, the total of all debit balances appearing in the trial balance must equal to the sum of all credit balances.

Purpose of a Trial Balance

  • Trial Balance acts as the first step in the preparation of financial statements. It is a working paper that accountants use as a basis while preparing financial statements.
  • Trial balance ensures that for every debit entry recorded, a corresponding credit entry has been recorded in the books in accordance with the double entry concept of accounting. If the totals of the trial balance do not agree, the differences may be investigated and resolved before financial statements are prepared. Rectifying basic accounting errors can be a much lengthy task after the financial statements have been prepared because of the changes that would be required to correct the financial statements.
  • Trial balance ensures that the account balances are accurately extracted from accounting ledgers.
  • Trail balance assists in the identification and rectification of errors.

This is an example of what a Trial Balance or “TB” looks like:

Both sides, the Debits and Credits, add up and net off to Zero


For further guidance on looking after your books, call LeeP on 01733 699033 – Small Business and start up Accountants in Huntingdon & Peterborough