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Debits and Credits Cheat Sheet: A Handy Beginner’s Guide

what is a debit in accounting

When you join PRO Plus, you will receive lifetime access to all of our premium materials, as well as 10 different Certificates of Achievement. For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

What Is the Difference Between a Debit and a Credit?

We’ll help guide you through the process, and give you a handy reference chart to use. When a business incurs a net profit, retained earnings, an equity account, is credited (increased). A current asset representing the cost of supplies on hand at a point in time.

When to Use Debits vs. Credits in Accounting

Assets and expenses have natural debit balances, while liabilities and revenues have natural credit balances. Sometimes, a trader’s margin account has both long and short margin positions. Adjusted debit balance is the amount in a margin account that is owed to the brokerage firm, minus profits on short sales and balances in a special miscellaneous account (SMA).

How Debits and Credits Affect Account Types

  1. For example, an allowance for uncollectable accounts offsets the asset accounts receivable.
  2. When your business does anything—buy furniture, take out a loan, spend money on research and development—the amount of money in the buckets changes.
  3. When in doubt, please consult your lawyer tax, or compliance professional for counsel.
  4. Because the allowance is a negative asset, a debit actually decreases the allowance.

It is your money and the bank owes it back to you, so on their books, it is a liability. In banking parlance, the bank debits the purchase price from your account. Each bank transaction is composed of a debit, which includes removing money from an account, and a credit, which adds money to the receiving account.

Whether a debit reflects an increase or a decrease, and whether a credit reflects a decrease or an increase, depends on the type of account. A record in the general ledger that is used to collect and store similar information. For example, a company will have a Cash account in which every transaction involving cash is recorded. A company selling merchandise on credit will record these sales in a Sales account and in an Accounts Receivable account.

For instance, if a company purchases supplies on credit, it increases its Accounts Payable—a liability account—by crediting it. When the company later pays off this payable, it reduces the liability by debiting Accounts Payable. This system is based on the concept of debits and credits. In this context, debits and credits represent two sides of a transaction. Depending on the type of account impacted by the entry, a debit can increase or decrease the value of the account.