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What is an account?

Author:
Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Account

In accounting, an account is a record in the general ledger that is used to sort and store transactions. For example, companies will have a Cash account in which to record every transaction that increases or decreases the company’s cash. Another account, Sales, will collect all of the amounts from the sale of merchandise. Most accounting systems require that every transaction will affect two or more accounts. For example, a cash sale will increase the Cash account and will increase the Sales account.

The term account is also used in transactions where suppliers sell goods to customers and grant credit terms such as net 10 days. In those situations, a supplier is selling goods on account and the customer has purchased goods on account. The supplier has also increased the balance in its current asset account entitled Accounts Receivable and the customer will increase the balance in its current liability account entitled Accounts Payable.

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About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on AccountingCoach.com.

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