The Eight Steps of the Accounting Cycle

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The Eight Steps of the Accounting Cycle
By Lita Epstein
8 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Accounting Basics

As a bookkeeper, you complete your work by completing the tasks of the accounting cycle. It’s called a cycle because the accounting workflow is circular: entering transactions, manipulating the transactions through the accounting cycle, closing the books at the end of the accounting period, and then starting the entire cycle again for the next accounting period. The accounting cycle has eight basic steps, which you can see in the following illustration. These steps are described in the list below.

1. Transactions
Financial transactions start the process. Transactions can include the sale or return of a product, the purchase of supplies for business activities, or any other financial activity that involves the exchange of the company’s assets, the establishment or payoff of a debt, or the deposit from or payout of money to the company’s owners. 2. Journal entries

The transaction is listed in the appropriate journal, maintaining the journal’s chronological order of transactions. The journal is also known as the “book of original entry” and is the first place a transaction is listed. 3. Posting

The transactions are posted to the account that it impacts. These accounts are part of the General Ledger, where you can find a summary of all the business’s accounts. 4. Trial balance
At the end of the accounting period (which may be a month, quarter, or year depending on a business’s practices), you calculate a trial balance. 5. Worksheet
Unfortunately, many times your first calculation of the trial balance shows that the books aren’t in balance. If that’s the case, you look for errors and make corrections called adjustments, which are tracked on a worksheet. Adjustments are also made to account for the depreciation of assets and to adjust for one-time payments (such as insurance) that should be allocated on a monthly basis to more...
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