Accounting is the recording of financial transactions plus storing, sorting, retrieving, summarizing, and presenting the information in various reports and analyses. Accounting is also a profession consisting of individuals having the formal education to carry out these tasks.
One part of accounting focuses on presenting the information in the form of general-purpose financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, etc.) to people outside of the company. These external reports must be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles often referred to as GAAP or US GAAP. This part of accounting is referred to as financial accounting.
Accounting also entails providing a company's management with the information it needs to keep the business financially healthy. These analyses and reports are not distributed outside of the company. Some of the information will originate from the recorded transactions but some of the information will be estimates and projections based on various assumptions. Three examples of internal analyses and reports are budgets, standards for controlling operations, and estimating selling prices for quoting new jobs. This area of accounting is known as management accounting.
Another part of accounting involves compliance with government regulations pertaining to income tax reporting.
Today much of the recording, storing, and sorting aspects of accounting have been automated as a result of the advances in computer technology.