difference between single entry system and double entry system

The Difference Between Single Entry System and Double Entry System

When it comes to bookkeeping, there are two main accounting systems: single entry and double entry. While both systems track financial transactions, there are several key differences that differentiate the two. Here, we’ll explain the difference between single entry and double entry systems and the advantages of using one over the other.

Single Entry System

The single entry system is a ledger-based accounting method that records transactions as a single entry. Typically, this system is used by smaller businesses, as it is simpler and less complex than the double entry system.

In the single entry system, all transactions are recorded in a journal or ledger. The ledger contains a list of transactions, including the date, description, and amount of the transaction. The single entry system only keeps track of cash inflows and outflows, making it easy to determine the cash balance at a given point in time.

However, the single entry system does have some limitations. Firstly, it doesn’t keep track of the relationship between accounts in a transaction. Additionally, it can be difficult to identify and correct errors, as there is only one record of each transaction.

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Double Entry System

The double entry system is a more complex accounting method that provides a higher level of accuracy than the single entry system. In double entry bookkeeping, each transaction is recorded twice, once as a debit and once as a credit.

For every transaction, the double entry system requires the creation of two accounting entries. One entry represents the value of the transaction, and the other entry represents the opposite value, known as a contra account. For example, when cash is received, it is debited (increased) in the cash account and credited (decreased) in the account that represents the origin of the cash, such as an account receivable.

The double entry system provides a more comprehensive view of a company’s financial position and a higher degree of accuracy. Transactions are automatically balanced, so errors can be identified and corrected more easily. Additionally, the double entry system produces a balance sheet that shows the company’s assets, liabilities, and equity.


While the single entry system is simpler and easier to use, the double entry system provides a higher degree of accuracy and a more comprehensive financial overview. For small businesses with simpler financial transactions, the single entry system is usually sufficient. However, as businesses grow and financial transactions become more complex, the double entry system becomes essential for accurate reporting and effective management.

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Table difference between single entry system and double entry system

Single Entry System Double Entry System
A single entry system only records one side of a transaction, either the debit or the credit. A double entry system records both sides of a transaction, the debit and the credit.
It is commonly used in small businesses or individuals who have simple financial transactions. It is commonly used in medium to large businesses or organizations with complex financial transactions.
It does not maintain a balance sheet or profit and loss statement. It maintains both a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement, which helps in analyzing financial performance.
It is relatively easy to maintain since only one entry is required for each transaction. It is comparatively complex to maintain since both sides of a transaction need to be recorded, which requires attention to detail.
It is not suitable for businesses with significant financial transactions since it does not provide a comprehensive financial picture. It is suitable for businesses of any size or complexity, as it provides an accurate, real-time financial picture at any given time.