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    Trial Balance

    The trial balance, or unadjusted trial balance, can be prepared at any time, but is most often prepared at the end of the period. It is prepared after all of the day-to-day journal entries have been recorded, and all of these entries have been posted to the general ledger. For the trial balance, we take all of the balances in all of the T-Accounts in the general ledger and summarize them.

    We list all of the T-accounts on one sheet, starting with the assets and then recording liabilities, and owners' equity accounts. We then add up the total debit balances and the total credit balances in two seperate columns. At the bottom, these two columns should add to the same amount. That is, because our debits always equal our credits when we record a transaction, when we prepare a trial balance, the debit balances should still be equal to the credit balances.

    We prepare the trial balance to ensure that we have made no errors in recording our transactions over the period and that we've posted each transaction correctly to the general ledger. If the two columns do not add to the same amount, we probably made a mistake somewhere. Please see: Correcting Accounting Errors. 


    The revenue and expense accounts are considered to be part of owners' equity. A sole proprietorship will have two additional owners' equity accounts: one for owners' equity and one for withdrawals. A corporation will have three owners' equity accounts: one for common shares or contributed capital, one for retained earnings, and one for dividends. These accounts are listed last on the trial balance. 

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