Three meanings come to mind when you ask about principles of accounting...

  1. Principles of Accounting was often the title of the introductory course in accounting. It was also common for the textbook used in the course to be entitled Principles of Accounting.

  2. Principles of accounting can also refer to the basic or fundamental accounting principles: cost principles, matching principles, full disclosure principles, materiality principles, going concern principles, economic entity principles, and so on. In this context, principles of accounting refers to the broad underlying concepts which guide accountants when preparing financial statements.

  3. Principles of accounting can also mean generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). When used in this context, principles of accounting will include both the underlying basic accounting principles and the official accounting pronouncements issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and its predecessor organizations. The official pronouncements are detailed rules or standards for specific topics.

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