A chart of accounts usually starts with: A asset accounts B expense accounts. C liability accounts. D revenue accounts.

  • Home
  • Bookkeeping
  • A chart of accounts usually starts with: A asset accounts B expense accounts. C liability accounts. D revenue accounts.

Assets, liabilities and equity accounts are used to generate the balance sheet, which conveys the business’s financial health at that point in time and whether or not it owes money. Balance sheet accounts are generally listed first on the chart of accounts. Expense and revenue accounts make up something called the income statement, which provides insight into a business’s https://accounting-services.net/what-are-all-the-major-components-of-a-chart-of/ profitability overtime. Within the five general types of categories of accounts, assets, liabilities, and equity comprise the balance sheet, or statement of financial position. The other two, revenue and expenses, together amount to the income statement, or statement of financial activity. Below are examples of what types of transactions fit in each account.

This is crucial for providing investors and other stakeholders a bird’s-eye view of a company’s financial data. COAs can differ and be tailored to reflect a company’s operations. However, they also must respect the guidelines set out by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Typically, they all follow the essential structure described below. But the final structure and look will depend on the type of business and its size.

Categories on the Chart of Accounts

A chart of accounts will likely be as large and as complex as a company itself. An international corporation with several divisions may need thousands of accounts, whereas a small local retailer may need as few as one hundred accounts. For ease of use, a COA contains the list of accounts’ names, brief descriptions, account type, account balance and account codes for each sub-account. Designing a chart of accounts is not a small task – it requires forethought and a lot of effort to design a scalable COA.

a chart of accounts usually starts with

Whereas, if a company is more sophisticated, then the chart of accounts can be either paper-based or computer-based. In conclusion, the standard chart of account is useful for analyzing past transactions and using historical data to forecast future trends. You can use the following example of chart of accounts to set up the general ledger of most companies. In addition, you may customize your COA to your industry by adding to the Inventory, Revenue and Cost of Goods Sold sections to the sample chart of accounts. The main components of the income statement accounts include the revenue accounts and expense accounts.

How To Make a Chart of Accounts

Typically, when listing accounts in the chart of accounts, you should use a numbering system for easy identification. Small businesses commonly use three-digit numbers, while large businesses use four-digit numbers to allow room for additional numbers as the business grows. Companies often use the chart of accounts to organize their records by providing a complete list of all the accounts in the general ledger of the business. The chart makes it easy to prepare information for evaluating the financial performance of the company at any given time.

What best describes a chart of accounts?

A chart of accounts is a business's list of financial accounts, reflecting the structure of the company's balance sheet and income statement. Detailed chart of accounts categories are individual to the business and set by management. Once established, it's best never to change a chart of accounts.

Accounts are usually listed in order of their appearance in the financial statements, starting with the balance sheet and continuing with the income statement. Thus, the chart of accounts begins with cash, proceeds through liabilities and shareholders’ equity, and then continues with accounts for revenues and then expenses. The exact configuration of the chart of accounts will be based on the needs of the individual business. Charts of accounts use a numbering system to aid with recordkeeping, and are divided into asset, liability, equity, revenue, and expense accounts. They’re organized in the same order as the business’s financial statements, with assets, liabilities, and equity comprising the balance sheet; and revenue and expenses making up the income statement.


If you’re using the accounting software QuickBooks, you won’t typically need to edit or make changes to the chart of accounts, as the program has customized accounts. However, if you do find yourself needing to make changes, QuickBooks provides a step-by-step rundown as well as an instructional video of how to do so. Making duplicate categories or accidentally filing an expense in the wrong category are common bookkeeping mistakes. You’ll want to keep your chart of accounts as straightforward and organized as possible. The number of accounts listed in your chart of accounts will correlate with your company’s size.

Within the categories of operating revenues and operating expenses, for instance, accounts might be further organized by business function or by company divisions. They need to be mindful of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the Financial Accounting Standards Board, however. Each asset account can be numbered in a sequence such as 1000, 1020, 1040, 1060, etc. The numbering follows the traditional format of the balance sheet by starting with the current assets, followed by the fixed assets.

Examples of Chart of Accounts

Whereas, if liabilities accounts are classified by numbers starting with the digit 2, then accounts payable might be labeled 201, short-term debt might be labeled 202, and so on. The first digit of a six-digit account number will likely indicate the type of account. For instance, an asset account number will begin with the digit “1”. Operating expenses will use accounts beginning with digits such as “4” through “7”. Nonoperating revenues, nonoperating expenses, gains, losses, and other items might begin with “9”. Setting up a chart of accounts can provide a helpful tool that enables a company’s management to easily record transactions, prepare financial statements, and review revenues and expenses in detail.

  • No, but it’s considered necessary by all kinds of companies seeking to categorize all of their transactions so that they can be referenced quickly and easily.
  • [box]Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra
    Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab.
  • Operating expenses will use accounts beginning with digits such as “4” through “7”.
  • A chart of accounts compatible with IFRS and US GAAP includes balance sheet (assets, liabilities and equity) and the profit and loss (revenue, expenses, gains and losses) classifications.
  • Groups of numbers are assigned to each of the five main categories, while blank numbers are left at the end to allow for additional accounts to be added in the future.
  • Our Explanation of Chart of Accounts includes two hypothetical examples.

Subscribe Your Email for Newsletter & Promotion