In years past, bookkeeping entailed writing/recording debit and credit entries into a journal. Debits were entered on the left and credits on the right. After journalizing the transactions, the amounts were posted to the proper accounts in the general ledger. Because this tedious and time consuming process usually resulted in errors, the bookkeeper prepared a trial balance. A trial balance showed that the debit balances in the accounts added to the same total as the credit balances. After the bookkeeping errors were corrected, the accountant prepared adjusting entries followed by the financial statements.

Today, computer software has eliminated much of the manual journalizing and posting. The bookkeeping is still taking place, but it is being done within the accounting software. For example, each time a check is prepared the Cash account is credited and the software prompts the person at the computer to enter the account to be debited. When a sales invoice is prepared using the accounting software, Accounts Receivable is automatically debited and the Sales account is credited. In addition, the individual customer's record is updated as well as inventory and the cost of the goods sold.

Since the software demands that the debits and credits are equal in amount, and since the computer doesn't miscalculate balances, most of the clerical errors are eliminated.

At larger companies, there are now accounts receivable clerks, accounts payable clerks, payroll clerks, cost accounting clerks, and others to assist with the bookkeeping.

You can learn more about bookkeepers and accounting clerks by visiting the Accounting Careers section of