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Trial Balance Report

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Guide: Understanding and writing the trial balance report with example

The trial balance report is your compass - it shows you where you are, and if your books are balanced, it can tell you if you're sailing smoothly or if there's a storm brewing. Accounting students, small business owners, and financial analysts often find themselves lost in the jargon of ledgers and balance sheets. This guide aims to demystify the trial balance report, a critical checkpoint in the financial accounting process, allowing you to confidently assess your business's financial status and revise it as necessary.

The importance of the trial balance report

The trial balance report is pivotal in ensuring the accuracy of the ledger. It summarizes all the debit and credit account information as of a specific date into two columns — Debit and Credit — to confirm at a glance that your bookkeeping entries match. Accurately prepared, the report indicates that the sum of debits equals credits, giving you a balance that signifies a balanced ledger. Although it isn't the final word on financial accuracy, as there are errors it might not catch, it is an indispensable tool in the accounts preparation toolbox.

What are the three types of trial balance?

Three distinct types of trial balances exist, each with its unique role in the accounting cycle: the Unadjusted Trial Balance, the Adjusted Trial Balance, and the Post-Closing Trial Balance.

The Unadjusted Trial Balance is prepared initially to check the arithmetic accuracy of the ledger accounts and ensures that the total debits equal total credits. It reflects the raw financial data and may contain errors that are later rectified.

Subsequently, the Adjusted Trial Balance is prepared after adjusting entries have been made to account for accrued, deferred, or estimated amounts. Its purpose is to verify the accuracy of accounts following adjustments and before the preparation of financial statements.

The final type, the Post-Closing Trial Balance, is prepared after closing entries have been made at the end of an accounting period. It ensures the ledger is balanced as it contains only the permanent accounts whose balances are carried over into the next period.

Each type of trial balance plays a vital role in displaying a company's financial posture at specific intervals, providing insight into the different phases of the accounting regimen. For example, an unadjusted trial balance might reveal the initial financial activities, while the adjusted version gives a more accurate representation suitable for preparing financial statements.

The closing trial balance confirms all revenue and expense accounts have been closed and the final balances are ready to be transferred to the next period. Recognizing the distinctions between these trial balances is essential for practitioners who rely on precise financial data to inform business decisions. Accurate trial balance sheets are indispensable to both the integrity of financial reporting and the efficacy of the overarching accounting process.

Understanding the trial balance

Before you can write a trial balance report, you must understand its purpose and the financial machinations behind it.

Definition and purpose

The trial balance report is an internal report run by companies to check the equality of debits and credits. Its primary function is to list the ending balance of every ledger account, which you can then analyze for accuracy and prepare other key financial statements.

Format for a trial balance

The established format includes assets positioned on the left side, juxtaposed with liabilities and equity on the right—each presented in parallel columns which facilitate a swift and clear comparison. The culmination of this setup is two summaries at the bottom of the columns; the totals of the debits and credits must be equal, affirming the equilibrium of financial entries in accordance with double-entry bookkeeping principles.

How to create a simple trial balance

Creating a trial balance report is a methodical process that begins with gathering financial data and ends with a balanced summary.

Gather necessary financial data

Ensure all transactions within a fiscal period are posted correctly to the general ledger. Each transaction must have two entries - a debit and a credit - to balance the accounting equation.

List all account balances

From the general ledger, list each account along with its balance. Remember, asset and expense accounts of normal debit balances are recorded on the debit column, whereas liability, equity, and revenue accounts of normal credit balances are recorded on the credit column.

Calculate total debits and credits

Sum all the debit and credit amounts to find the total for each. The equality of these two totals means that the books of the business balance. If they do not, there may be errors in the accounting cycle that need correction.

Interpreting the trial balance

A balanced trial balance report is a cause for cautious celebration, as it indicates that the two sides of the accounting ledger match. But don't set sail just yet; there could still be errors lurking in the detail.

Identifying errors

Common errors include transposition (digits are flipped in an entry), omission (a transaction is missed), and incorrect postings (the wrong account is debited or credited). The trial balance report is a tool to identify these mistakes, not to fix them.

Rectifying errors

Once errors are identified, it's time to dig into the accounts. Correct the mistake by ensuring every debit has a corresponding credit or vice versa. It may be necessary to consult transaction records to reconcile the accounts properly.


The trial balance report is one of the first checkpoints to ensuring the integrity of a company’s financial information. Accurately drawn, it provides a picture of the equality between debits and credits. Take time to learn and understand this important report. Encourage practice and thorough verification.

Simplify financial reporting and streamline expense management with Ramp 

Ramp is a leading-class software that makes financial reporting headaches a thing of the past. Our platform brings automation into the equation, keeping real-time records of all financial aspects of your business.

With real-time financial data automation, you’ll have the data at your fingertips when it’s time to check your company’s financial health. Aside from general financial reporting, including the reports mentioned above, Ramp gives you instant access to these:

  • Expense reports: Automated expense reports track each penny your company spends on a granular level and make it easy to find and fix inefficiencies.
  • Ecommerce reporting: Dive into dedicated eCommerce reports to track and optimize the performance of your online efforts.
  • Variance reports: Variance reports give you more control by showing how much project income and expenses typically deviate from expectations in your business.

Reach out to us to learn what Ramp can do to help you meet your financial reporting goals.

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The information provided in this article does not constitute legal or financial advice and is for general informational purposes only. Please check with an attorney or financial advisor to obtain advice with respect to the content of this article.

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