What is Debit and Credit – An Easy to Understand Explanation

Debit and Credit are key parts of any accounting entry. These are the fundamental “effect” of each financial transaction. For maintaining correct accounting records, you must have full knowledge of what is Debit and what is Credit.

In the double-entry system of bookkeeping, you have two columns for entering your transactions. A basic understanding is that an entry to the left side column is Debit, and an entry to the right side column is Credit. Debit & Credit are shortly mentioned as Dr. and Cr. respectively. Every transaction has two effects. So for every debit, there is a corresponding credit of an equal amount. In order to understand debit and credit entries, it is important to understand what are the different account types and rules for debit and credit in each account type, apart from a clear idea of five accounting elements.

Debit and Credit Rules for 3 Different Account Types

There are three “Account Types.” All accounts have been classified into either Real, Personal or Nominal accounts. The rules for entering transactions into these groups of accounts are as follows:

Debit what comes in and credit what goes out – Real Accounts

Real accounts constitute all assets like buildings, land, roads, machinery, plants, constructions, furniture, and other equipment. When they are purchased, you debit the respective account with the amount. You credit the account with its value when it is sold or removed.

Debit the receiver and Credit the giver – Personal Accounts

Personal accounts constitute the accounts of an owner, partners, shareholders (Capital and Drawings Account), customers and suppliers (Debtor or Creditor), etc. When a payment is made to somebody, you debit the receiver of that payment and credit Cash or Bank as money is paid from a cash or by means of cheque. When money or cheques are received, you credit the person who is paying you, and you debit the cash or bank.

Debit all expenses and losses – Nominal Accounts

Credit all incomes and gains. Nominal accounts constitute all expenses and income accounts and also profit or loss. You debit the expenditure account whenever some expenditure is incurred and credit the income account whenever income is received. Income accounts include interest received, rent received, profit or surplus, etc.

Debit and Credit

Understanding Five Accounting Elements

The modern accounting equation principle consists of five accounting elements. They are Assets, Liabilities, Income or Revenue, Expense, and  Equity or Capital.

All financial transactions are classified according to the nature of the transaction and grouped into the above five groups of accounts. Let us have a basic concept of these elements to understand the accounting rule of debit and credit properly.

  1. Assets: Assets have a debit balance. They constitute the company’s movable and immovable property and goods. They include items of Cash balance and Bank balance also in addition to vehicles, buildings, furniture, bills receivable and interest receivable, etc. All these items add to the asset of the business. When some asset is sold, it is posted on the credit side of the account.
  2. Liabilities: Liabilities have a credit balance. They indicate the amount payable by the company to creditors, such as bills payable, loans, overdrafts, etc.
  3. Equity/ Capital: Capital refers to the paid-up capital of the company. This constitutes the company’s fund invested in the business. It is a liability because it has been taken from the owner/shareholders of the company. It will always have a credit balance.
  4. Income/ Revenue: This group of accounts shows the income received by the company by way of the sale of goods or services or by any other form of interest received, profit on the sale of assets, commission, etc.
  5. Expenses: Expense includes all expenditure items incurred such as rent, cartage, electricity, postage, travel, stationery, bank charges, salary, wages, etc.

Example Explaining Credits and Debits

Each credit and debit entry requires a correct perception of the nature of a transaction. To make the picture clear, let us have an example and see how the transaction affects each of the above 5 accounting elements by following the rules of the “Real, Personal and Nominal” account as discussed above.

  Effect on Capital Effect on Assets Effect on Expenses Effect on Income Effect on Liabilities
  Dr Cr. Dr Cr. Dr Cr. Dr Cr. Dr Cr.
A and B start a computer business. A invests cash of $60000, and B invests $30000   90000 90000 (Cash)              
They pay rent by cash for office as $1000       1000 
They purchase furniture of $500 by cash     500 500 (cash)            
They procure 10 computers worth $800 each on credit from Mr. C .   8000             8000
But they sell extra 3 computers out of 10 for $900 each in cash.     2700 (Cash) 2400 (Comp.)       300 (Profit)    
They pay the electricity bill of $200 by borrowing from Mr. D.         200         200
Total 0 90000 101200 3900 1200 0 0 300 0 8200

Once you clearly understand the effects, this is how the balance sheet would look like, which you can understand better after reading about the balance sheet and types of accounts (Ignoring Depreciation):

Balance Sheet
Liabilities Amount ($) Assets Amount ($)
Capital 90000 Furniture 500
Profit/(Loss)/(Income-expense) -900 Cash 91200
Liabilities 8200 Computer (Stock) 5600
  97300   97300

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

10 thoughts on “What is Debit and Credit – An Easy to Understand Explanation”

  1. the balance sheer is incorrect as on the liabilities side: share cap is 90,000, loss is 900 (1200 exp-300 profit from sale) and creditors amount to 8200 therefore total 97300/-
    on the asset side Cash is 91200(90000-1000-500+2700) stock is 5600(8000-2400) furniture is 500 total 97300/-

    • when you give money to the bank remember the bank owes you, then it is a credit but when the bank gives you money it debits your account. Same applies when you recieves money from anyone


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