Double Entry

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Double Entry

A bookkeeping system that lists each transaction twice in the ledger.

Double-entry bookkeeping is a method whereby every transaction is shown as both a debit and a credit. This is done through the use of horizontal rows and vertical columns of numbers. The reason for the use of this bookkeeping method is that if the total of horizontal rows and vertical columns is not the same, it is easier to find mistakes than when the records are kept with only a single entry for each item.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

DOUBLE ENTRY. A term used among merchants to signify that books of account are kept in such a manner that they present the debit and credit of every thing. The term is used in contradistinction to single entry.
     2. Keeping books by double entry is more exact, because, presenting all the active and all the passive property of the merchant, in their respective divisions, there cannot be placed an article to, an account, which does not pass to some correspondent account elsewhere. It presents a perfect, view of each operation, and, from the relation and comparison of the divers accounts, which always keep pace with each other, their correctness is proved; for every commercial operation is necessarily composed of two interests, which are connected together. The basis of this mode of keeping books, and the only condition required, is to write down every transaction and nothing else; and to make no entry without putting it down to the two agents of the operation. By this means a merchant whose transactions are extensive, comprising a great number of subjects, is able to known not only the general situation of his affairs, but also the situation of each particular operation. For example, when a merchant receives money, his cash account becomes debtor, and the person who has paid it, or the merchandise sold, is credited with it; when he pays money, the cash account, is credited, And the merchandise bought, or the obligation paid, is debited with it. See Single entry.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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