Debits & Credits: The Meaning, Purpose, & Application in Accounting 

accounting firm in Singapore

Accounting can be described as the language of business. It’s a system for tracking the financial activities of a company, ensuring accuracy and transparency in reporting. To understand accounting in a better way, one must understand a fundamental concept: debits and credits. These two terms are the building blocks upon which the entire field of accounting rests. In this blog post, we will delve deep into the world of debits and credits, unraveling their meaning, purpose, and application in accounting.

The Basics: What Are Debits and Credits?

Debits and credits are not just entries in an accounting ledger; they are concepts that represent the dual-aspect nature of every financial transaction. In other words, for every transaction, there is both a give and a take, a debit and a credit.


Debits are entries that increase the balance of assets and expenses while decreasing the balance of liabilities, equity, and revenues. In simpler terms, when you debit an account, you are adding to it.

Some common examples of debit transactions include:

  • Purchasing office supplies: You debit the Office Supplies account to increase its balance.
  • Receiving cash payment from a customer: You debit the Cash account to increase the cash balance.


On the flip side, credits are entries that decrease the balance of assets and expenses while increasing the balance of liabilities, equity, and revenues. When you credit an account, you are taking away from it.

For instance:

  • Paying off a loan: You credit the Loan Payable account to reduce the liability.
  • Recognizing revenue from a sale: You credit the Sales Revenue account to increase revenue.

The Accounting Equation

To understand how debits and credits work together, it’s crucial to grasp the accounting equation. The accounting equation states that:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

This equation is the foundation of double-entry accounting, which ensures that every financial transaction has equal debits and credits. Let’s break it down:

  • Assets are what a company owns, such as cash, buildings, and inventory.
  • Liabilities are what a company owes, like loans and accounts payable.
  • Equity represents the owner’s interest in the business.

So, if you increase an asset or an expense (through a debit), you must also increase a liability, equity, or revenue (through a credit), and vice versa. This maintains the balance in the accounting equation.

Debits and Credits in Action

Let’s explore some common business transactions and see how debits and credits are applied:

1. Purchase of Office Supplies

When a business buys office supplies, it increases its assets (office supplies) while decreasing cash. The accountants would record them as follows:

  • Debit: Office Supplies (an asset account) to increase its balance.
  • Credit: Cash (an asset account) to decrease its balance.

This keeps the accounting equation in balance because assets have increased (debit) while another asset (cash) has decreased (credit).

2. Receiving Payment from a Customer

When a business receives payment from a customer, it increases its cash (asset) while decreasing the amount owed by the customer (accounts receivable). The entry would look like this:

  • Debit: Cash (an asset account) to increase its balance.
  • Credit: Accounts Receivable (an asset account) to decrease its balance.

Again, the accounting equation remains balanced with an increase in one asset (debit) and a decrease in another (credit).

3. Taking Out a Loan

When a business takes out a loan, it increases its cash (asset) while incurring a liability (the loan). The entry is:

  • Debit: Cash (an asset account) to increase its balance.
  • Credit: Loan Payable (a liability account) to increase its balance.

This transaction maintains the balance between assets and liabilities as required by the accounting equation.

Mistakes to Avoid

Understanding debits and credits is a basic thing, but sometimes it can also be challenging. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

  • Confusing Debits and Credits: It’s easy to mix them up, so always double-check your entries.
  • Forgetting to Record a Transaction: Every transaction must have equal debits and credits; otherwise, your books won’t balance.
  • Misclassifying Accounts: Make sure you understand the nature of each account (asset, liability, equity, revenue, expense) to apply debits and credits correctly.
  • Not Reconciling Accounts: Regularly reconcile your accounts to catch errors and ensure accuracy.

Debits and credits are the backbone of double-entry accounting, providing a systematic way to record financial transactions accurately. By understanding the basics of debits and credits, you can navigate the intricate world of accounting with confidence. Remember, it’s not just about entering numbers; it’s about speaking the language of business fluently and ensuring the financial health of an organization.


More Posts

Get in Touch​

Contact us to get a discounted offer!

Fill Out the Form Below & we will contact you shortly!

Contact us to get a discounted offer!

Fill Out the Form Below & we will contact you shortly!