Adjusting Journal Entry Definition: Purpose, Types, and Example

For instance, an accrued expense may be rent that is paid at the end of the month, even though a firm is able to occupy the space at the beginning of the month that has not yet been paid. Let’s say you’ve earned some profit/revenue in a specific period, but it hasn’t been accounted for yet. In such a scenario, the financial statements that’s generated for that period, will be low.

  • It means that for this part, the supplier has received only a part of the amount due to him/her.
  • An adjusting entry is needed to recognize the portion of the prepaid expense that has been used during the accounting period.
  • This type of entry is more common in small-business accounting than accruals.
  • Adjusting Entries refer to those transactions which affect our Trading Account (profit and loss account) and capital accounts (balance sheet).
  • The depreciation of fixed assets, for example, is an expense which has to be estimated.

The following entries are the most common types of adjusting entries recorded in books of accounts. Adjusting entries, also known as account adjustments, are entries that are recorded in a company’s general ledger at the end of a specified accounting period. Therefore, it is necessary to find out the transactions relating to the current accounting period that have not been recorded so far or which have been entered but incompletely or incorrectly. An adjusting entry is an entry that brings the balance of an account up to date.

Why are adjusting entries necessary?

The adjusting entry will debit interest expense and credit interest payable for the amount of interest from December 1 to December 31. A deferral is a type of journal entry that is used to record an expense or revenue that has been earned or incurred in one period but will not be recognized until a future period. This type of entry is necessary to ensure that financial statements accurately reflect the company’s financial situation.

  • At the end of the first month, the company would need to make an adjusting entry to recognize the portion of the unearned revenue that has been earned during that month.
  • When the exact value of an item cannot be easily identified, accountants must make estimates, which are also considered adjusting journal entries.
  • If the rent is paid in advance for a whole year but recognized on a monthly basis, adjusting entries will be made every month to recognize the portion of prepayment assets consumed in that month.
  • If you don’t make adjusting entries, your books will show you paying for expenses before they’re actually incurred, or collecting unearned revenue before you can actually use the money.
  • At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content.

Failing to adjust your entries at the end of each accounting period will mean that your company’s financial statements are heavily unreliable and unpresentable. This can significantly bottleneck your business’s future growth by limiting the number of investment opportunities available. Examples of non-cash expenses include depreciation, amortization, and write-offs. Non-cash expenses are important because they can help a business manage its cash flow by decreasing the amount of money it needs to pay out while still recording the expense on its financial statements. An adjusting entry is needed to recognize these revenues and to record the amount owed. For example, a company may have performed a service for a customer in December but will not receive payment until January.


Also, cash might not be paid or earned in the same period as the expenses or incomes are incurred. To deal with the mismatches between cash and transactions, deferred or accrued accounts are created to record the cash payments or actual transactions. The purpose of adjusting entries is to convert cash transactions into the accrual accounting method. Accrual accounting is based on the revenue recognition principle that seeks to recognize revenue in the period in which it was earned, rather than the period in which cash is received.

An adjusting journal entry involves an income statement account (revenue or expense) along with a balance sheet account (asset or liability). It typically relates to the balance sheet accounts for accumulated depreciation, allowance for doubtful accounts, accrued expenses, accrued income, prepaid expenses, deferred revenue, and unearned revenue. Adjusting entries are necessary because they ensure that financial statements provide an accurate representation of a company’s financial position and performance. Without adjusting entries, financial statements would not accurately reflect a company’s financial situation. It helps accountants to properly recognize revenues and expenses in the correct accounting period, which is necessary to produce accurate financial statements. According to accrual concept of accounting, revenue is recognized in the period in which it is earned and expenses are recognized in the period in which they are incurred.


The standard adjusting entries used should be reevaluated from time to time, in case adjustments are needed to reflect changes in the underlying business. The use of adjusting journal entries is a key part of the period closing processing, as noted in the accounting cycle, where a preliminary trial balance is converted into a final trial balance. It is usually not possible to create financial statements that are fully in compliance with accounting standards without the use of adjusting entries. Thus, adjusting entries are created at the end of a reporting period, such as at the end of a month, quarter, or year. Adjusting entries are made at the end of the accounting period to make your financial statements more accurately reflect your income and expenses, usually — but not always — on an accrual basis. A business may earn revenue from selling a good or service during one accounting period, but not invoice the client or receive payment until a future accounting period.

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The other adjusting entries are used to adjust asset and liability accounts to match revenues and expenses in the same way. If your business uses the cash basis method, there’s no need for adjusting entries. As an example, assume a construction company begins construction in one period but does not invoice the customer until the work is complete in six months. The construction company will need to do an adjusting journal entry at the end of each of the months to recognize revenue for 1/6 of the amount that will be invoiced at the six-month point. As learnt, that to arrive at a correct figure of profits and loss as well as true figures in the balance sheet, certain accounts require some adjustments. It’s extremely important that at the end of each month, you run a close check on all your company’s financial statement – balance sheet, P/L statement, and cash flow statement.

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You do not want to be in a situation where you have “paid” for expenses before they have occurred or where you have “collected” unearned revenue before you can actually use it. Accrued expenses are items such as salaries, taxes, and utilities that have been incurred but not yet paid. The primary objective of accounting is to provide information that will help management take better decisions and plan for the future. It also helps users (lenders, employees and other stakeholders) to assess a business’s financial performance, financial position and ability to generate future Cash Flows. It has already been mentioned that it is essential to update and correct the accounting records to find the correct and true profit or loss of the business.

Adjusting entries

Now that all of Paul’s AJEs are made in his accounting system, he can record them on the accounting worksheet and prepare an adjusted trial balance. If making adjusting entries is beginning to sound intimidating, don’t worry—there are only five types of adjusting entries, and the differences between them are clear cut. Here are descriptions of each type, plus example scenarios and how to make the entries. No matter what type of accounting you use, if you have a bookkeeper, they’ll handle any and all adjusting entries for you. This is extremely helpful in keeping track of your receivables and payables, as well as identifying the exact profit and loss of the business at the end of the fiscal year.

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