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Bookkeeping Concepts

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What is the difference between a trial balance and a balance sheet?

A trial balance is an internal report that will remain in the accounting department. It is a listing of all of the accounts in the general ledger and their balances. However, the debit balances are entered in one column and the credit balances are entered in another column. Each column is then summed to prove that the total of the debit balances is equal to the total of the credit balances.

A balance sheet is one of the financial statements that will be distributed outside of the accounting department and is often distributed outside of the company. The balance sheet is organized into sections or classifications such as current assets, long-term investments, property, plant and equipment, other assets, current liabilities, long-term liabilities, and stockholders' equity. Only the asset, liability, and stockholders' equity account balances from the general ledger or from the trial balance are then presented in the appropriate section of the balance sheet. Totals are also provided for each section to assist the reader of the balance sheet. The balance sheet is also referred to as the statement of financial position or the statement of financial condition.