Normal Balances Office of the University Controller

When a company earns money, it records revenue, which increases owners’ equity. Therefore, you must credit a revenue account to increase it, or it has a credit normal balance. Expenses are the result of a company spending money, which reduces owners’ equity.

As assets and expenses increase on the debit side, their normal balance is a debit. Dividends paid to shareholders also have a normal balance that is a debit entry. Since liabilities, equity (such as common stock), and revenues increase with a credit, their “normal” balance is a credit. Table 1.1 shows the normal balances and increases for each account type. This transaction will require a journal entry that includes an expense account and a cash account.

Therefore, income statement accounts that increase owners’ equity have credit normal balances, and accounts that decrease owners’ equity have debit normal balances. A contra account contains a normal balance that is the reverse of the normal balance for that class of account. The contra accounts noted in the preceding table are usually set up as reserve accounts against declines in the usual balance in the accounts with which they are paired. As noted earlier, expenses are almost always debited, so we debit Wages Expense, increasing its account balance.

4 Rules of Debit (DR) and Credit (CR)

These accounts, like debits and credits, increase and decrease revenue, expense, asset, liability, and net asset accounts. To better visualize debits and credits in various financial statement line items, T-Accounts are commonly used. Debits are presented on the left-hand side of the T-account, whereas credits are presented on the right. Included below are the main financial statement line items presented as T-accounts, showing their normal balances.

normal account balances

When an amount is accounted for on its normal balance side, it increases that account. On the contrary, when an amount is accounted for on the opposite side of its normal balance, it decreases that amount. Accounts Receivable is an asset account and is increased with a debit; Service Revenues is increased with a credit. The company originally paid $4,000 for the asset and has claimed $1,000 of depreciation expense.

Record the Sale of a Fixed Asset

This situation could possibly occur with an overpayment to a supplier or an error in recording. Asset, liability, and most owner/stockholder equity accounts are referred to as permanent accounts (or real accounts). Permanent accounts are not closed at the end of the accounting year; their balances are automatically carried forward to the next accounting year. This means that the new accounting year starts with no revenue amounts, no expense amounts, and no amount in the drawing account. Below is a basic example of a debit and credit journal entry within a general ledger. A normal balance is the side of the T-account where the balance is normally found.

normal account balances

Let’s use what we’ve learned about debits and credits to determine what this accounting transaction is recording. The first step is to determine the type of accounts being adjusted and whether they have a debit or credit normal balance. A debit records financial information on the left side of each account. A credit records financial information on the right side of an account.

Debit and Credit Effects by Account Type

If revenues (credits) exceed expenses (debits) then net income is positive and a credit balance. If expenses exceed revenues, then net income is negative (or a net loss) and has a debit balance. By having many revenue accounts and a huge number of expense accounts, a company will be able to report detailed information on revenues and expenses throughout the year.

  • As assets and expenses increase on the debit side, their normal balance is a debit.
  • Tim is a Certified QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets) Pro, QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and CPA with 25 years of experience.
  • Since Accounts Payable increases on the credit side, one would expect a normal balance on the credit side.
  • The company purchases $500 of supplies from a vendor and receives an invoice, but doesn’t pay the invoice yet.
  • Let’s say there were a credit of $4,000 and a debit of $6,000 in the Accounts Payable account.
  • The easiest way to remember them is that debits are on the left and credits are on the right.

One side of each account will increase and the other side will decrease. The ending account balance is found by calculating the difference between debits and credits for each account. You will often see the terms debit and credit represented in shorthand, written as DR or dr and CR or cr, respectively. Depending on the account type, the sides that increase and decrease may vary. Here are some examples of common journal entries along with their debits and credits.


Since assets are on the left side of the equation, an asset account increases with a debit entry and decreases with a credit entry. Conversely, liabilities are on the right side of the equation, so they are increased by credits and decreased by debits. The same is true for owners’ equity, but it contains net income that needs a little more explanation, which we’ll do in the next section. Owners’ equity accounts represent an owner’s investment in the company and consist of capital contributed to the company and earnings retained by the company. The normal balance is the expected balance each account type maintains, which is the side that increases.

Temporary accounts (or nominal accounts) include all of the revenue accounts, expense accounts, the owner’s drawing account, and the income summary account. Generally speaking, the balances in temporary accounts increase throughout the accounting year. At the end of the accounting year the balances will be transferred to the owner’s capital account or to a corporation’s retained earnings account. Within IU’s KFS, debits and credits can sometimes be referred to as “to” and “from” accounts.

Let’s say there were a credit of $4,000 and a debit of $6,000 in the Accounts Payable account. Since Accounts Payable increases on the credit side, one would expect a normal balance on the credit side. However, the difference between the two figures in this case would be a debit balance of $2,000, which is an abnormal balance.

Normal Debit and Credit Balances for the Accounts

A normal balance is the expectation that a particular type of account will have either a debit or a credit balance based on its classification within the chart of accounts. It is possible for an account expected to have a normal balance as a debit to actually have a credit balance, and vice versa, but these situations should be in the minority. The normal balance for each account type is noted in the following table. When an account produces a balance that is contrary to what the expected normal balance of that account is, this account has an abnormal balance. Let’s consider the following example to better understand abnormal balances. We can illustrate each account type and its corresponding debit and credit effects in the form of an expanded accounting equation.

Example Transactions With Debits and Credits

This allows organizations to identify errors, mistakes and pitfalls which can be remedied quickly and prevent larger issues in the future.

Tim worked as a tax professional for BKD, LLP before returning to school and receiving his Ph.D. from Penn State. He then taught tax and accounting to undergraduate and graduate students as an assistant professor at both the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Mississippi State University. Tim is a Certified QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets) Pro, QuickBooks ProAdvisor for both the Online and Desktop products, as well as a CPA with 25 years of experience. He most recently spent two years as the accountant at a commercial roofing company utilizing QuickBooks Desktop to compile financials, job cost, and run payroll. The company pays an outstanding vendor invoice of $500 that was previously recorded as an expense.