The accounting cycle is often described as a process that includes the following steps: identifying, collecting and analyzing documents and transactions, recording the transactions in journals, posting the journalized amounts to accounts in the general and subsidiary ledgers, preparing an unadjusted trial balance, perhaps preparing a worksheet, determining and recording adjusting entries, preparing an adjusted trial balance, preparing the financial statements, recording and posting closing entries, preparing a post-closing trial balance, and perhaps recording reversing entries.

Cycle and steps seem to be a carryover from the days of manual bookkeeping and accounting when transactions were first written into journals. In a separate step the amounts in the journal were posted to accounts. At the end of each month, the remaining steps had to take place in order to get the monthly, manually-prepared financial statements.

Today, most companies use accounting software that processes many of these steps simultaneously. The speed and accuracy of the software reduces the accountant's need for a worksheet containing the unadjusted trial balance, adjusting entries, and the adjusted trial balance. The accountant can enter the adjusting entries into the software and can obtain the complete financial statements by simply selecting the reports from a menu. After reviewing the financial statements, the accountant can make additional adjustments and almost immediately obtain the revised reports. The software will also prepare, record, and post the closing entries.

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