What Is Chart Of Accounts And How Does It Work?

chart of accounts numbering system

To make a chart of accounts, you’ll need to first create account categories relevant to your business, and then assign a four-digit numbering system to the accounts you create. While making a chart of accounts can be time consuming, it’s an important tool for understanding the financial health of your business.

chart of accounts numbering system

In the end, the chart of accounts, the budget, and management preferences all must align in an effective accounting system. The concept makes sense, but it gets confusing when this entry hits the financials. Unlike true wage expense, the $3,000 is a project costing entry that is not paid out in cash. Accordingly, the offset will not be cash, but rather a -$3,000 entry to an Indirect Expenses-Applied account.

Ready To Redesign Your Chart Of Accounts?

You can track all your sales and get a grasp of which assets could easily be liquidated if you ever needed to quickly collect cash for your business. The chart of accounts is also the basis for all your accounting reports, so it will help you create your financial statements and file your tax returns. Small businesses need a chart of accounts to organize their accounting for more simple and accurate financial reporting. Because your chart of accounts places all your financial data in one document, it makes it easy to track all your business information.

What are accounting numbers?

An account number is a unique string of numbers and, sometimes, letters and other characters that identifies the owner of an account and grants access to it. … In today’s electronic age, the most important account number for many people is the checking account number.

Accounting software packages often come with a selection of predefined account charts for various types of businesses. For instance, a multi-division company would have the chart accounts numbering in the following manner – zz-aa-123. The zz representing division, aa for department and 123 for accounts. If the company is a single division with multiple departments, then the number pattern could be something like zz-yyy.

Well, this should be listed between the cash and accounts receivable in the chart, but there isn’t a number in between them. There are many different ways to structure a chart of accounts, but the important thing to remember is that simplicity is key. The more accounts are added to the chart and the more complex the numbering system is, the more difficult it will be to keep track of them and actually use the accounting system.

Manufacturing Transaction Categories

Current assets are assets such as savings accounts, checking accounts and inventory, and are assets that the company can convert directly into cash when needed. Fixed assets are items with a minimum cost that a company would sell to generate income. The current liabilities section will include short-term debt accounts like accounts payable, the account where you will record what you owe your suppliers.

You can follow a similar system of labeling for all the other categories. Once you decide on these numbers, you can input them into your chart of accounts. You can also change these numbers based on the business’ requirements. Setting up the chart of accounts might seem daunting at first, but it is a straightforward process.

That uses a numbering system to organize the list of accounts, labeled in the software as the Chart of Accounts. If you choose to use account numbers, the Chart of Accounts will be organized in numerical order.


A chart of accounts gives a structured view of the various kinds of accounts a company maintains. The structure given to the chart of accounts is in line with the double-entry accounting system that every company follows. A regular chart of accounts is displayed, as shown in the picture below. ‍The liability account includes all kinds of debts that a company owes to various stakeholders. It consists of any type of debt like accounts payable, salaries payable, etc.Liabilities can be both short-term as well as long-term. Even if you’re business is pretty simple with just a few employees, there will be a lot of different categories you will use, and these can get confusing.

What is QuickBooks chart of accounts?

The chart of accounts is a list of all your company’s accounts and their balances. In QuickBooks, you use these accounts to categorize your transactions on everything from sales forms to reports to tax forms. Each account has a transaction history and breaks down how much money you have (or owe).

The accounts in the income statement comprise revenues and expenses, and these accounts are also broken down further into sub-categories. The larger the company’s size, the more complex will be its chart of accounts. For example, if a company has more than 15 departments in its structure, each department will take into account its own expense and revenue account etc.

A general ledger accounting system numbers transactions according to the balance sheet and income statement categories. The assets, liabilities and stockholders’ equity transaction categories are taken from the balance sheet. The income and expense categories are taken from the income statement. The full chart of accounts list with definition is available at Accounting Coach.

How To Number Accounts In A Chart Of Accounts

This structure can avoid confusion in the bookkeeper process and ensure the proper account is selected when recording transactions. Many industry associations publish chart of accounts numbering system recommended charts of accounts for their respective industries in order to establish a consistent standard of comparison among firms in their industry.

chart of accounts numbering system

Of crucial importance is that COAs are kept the same from year to year. Doing so ensures that accurate comparisons of the company’s finances can be made over time. Daniel Liberto is a journalist with over 10 years of experience working with publications such as the Financial Times, The Independent, and Investors Chronicle. He received his masters in journalism from the London College of Communication. Daniel is an expert in corporate finance and equity investing as well as podcast and video production.

Account Code

Your bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. It should let you make better decisions, give you an accurate snapshot of your company’s financial health, and make it easier to follow financial reporting standards. A well-designed chart of accounts should separate out all the company’s most important accounts, and make it easy to figure out which transactions get recorded in which account.

chart of accounts numbering system

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. However, there are many benefits of using the chart of accounts, there are also a few problems with this chart. Firstly, it is expensive as it requires specialized employees to record financial transactions daily. Secondly, as the chart requires the formation of extra general ledger accounts, this process can be very time-consuming.

Below, we’ll go over what the accounting chart of accounts is, what it looks like, and why it’s so important for your business. Based on the sophistication of the company, the chart of accounts can be paper-based or computer based. If you acquire another company, a key task is shifting the acquiree’s chart of accounts into the parent company’s chart of accounts, so that you can present consolidated financial results. This process is known as mapping the acquiree’s information into the parent’s chart of accounts. The Account numbers can also be five or more digits in length as the size of the company grows with each digit representing a division of the company, the department, the type of account, etc. And if liabilities accounts are classified by numbers starting with the digit 2, then accounts payable might be labeled 201, Insurance Payable might be labeled 202 and so on.

Accessing The Quickbooks Chart Of Accounts

Gaps may be left between sub-category listings to allow for the addition of new accounts. Each company will have its own CoA numbering system and can assign a number for identification purposes. A block of numbers can be assigned to one of those five categories and then be further divided into sub-categories. Gaps can be left between sub-category listings to allow for the addition of new accounts.

One should check the appropriate tax regulations and generate a complete list of such required accounts. A good chart of accounts makes sure financial reports are accurate with large non-cash entries, and separate accounts can be helpful in segregating these entries. A gap between account numbers allows for adding accounts in the future. Just like the division code, the department code is also usually a two-digit code.

Want More Helpful Articles About Running A Business?

The chart of accounts is simply the organized list of all the bins and shelves. A company of any size can benefit from putting a certain amount of forethought into the set up and design of its Chart of Accounts . This is essentially a company’s system of categorizing and classifying transactions in the general ledger. A best practices COA should use standard accounting principles, incorporate items that are specific to your business, and allow for flexibility as your business grows and changes. This is the third type of balance sheet account listed in the chart of accounts. It refers to financial capital which is sourced through investment by owners/shareholders.

  • The Payroll Liabilities account tracks taxes that you deduct from employee’s paychecks and hold temporarily until you turn them over to the government.
  • Each Main category begins with a certain number, and then the sub-categories within that Main category will all begin with the same number.
  • All of these sub-categories are treated uniquely while they are recorded in the chart of accounts.
  • A balanced trial balance does not guarantee that there are no errors in the individual ledger entries.
  • The same is true for complex journal entries that adjust work in progress values, or over/under billings entries at companies that work with multi-month projects.
  • This will be useful for tracking the profitability of each revenue source, and for the comparison of each revenue source versus the forecasted expectations for that revenue source.

If sales spike to $1,000 one month, depreciation is still $50 and is now only 5% of sales. In that situation, sales—not production efficiency or better estimating—has changed gross margin. That can be misleading, especially if production supervisors are compensated on margin metrics.

Author: Mary Fortune

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