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evaluating public company financial statements


The accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Owners’ Equity) and financial statements are the main topics of financial accounting.

The trial balance, which is usually prepared using the double-entry accounting system, forms the basis for preparing the financial statements. All the figures in the trial balance are rearranged to prepare a profit & loss statement and balance sheet. Accounting standards determine the format for these accounts (SSAP, FRS, IFRS). Financial statements display the income and expenditure for the company and a summary of the assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ or owners’ equity of the company on the date to which the accounts were prepared.

Assets and expenses have normal debit balances, i.e., debiting these types of accounts increases them.

Liabilities, revenues, and capital have normal credit balances, i.e., crediting these increases them.

0 = Dr Assets                            Cr Owners' Equity                Cr Liabilities  
          .       _____________________________/\____________________________       .
          .      /    Cr Retained Earnings (profit)         Cr Common Stock  \      .
          .    _________________/\_______________________________      .            .
          .   / Dr Expenses       Cr Beginning Retained Earnings \     .            .
          .     Dr Dividends      Cr Revenue                           .            .
      \________________________/  \______________________________________________________/
       increased by debits           increased by credits


          Crediting a credit                         
Thus -------------------------> account increases its absolute value (balance)
           Debiting a debit                             


          Debiting a credit                         
Thus -------------------------> account decreases its absolute value (balance)
          Crediting a debit

When the same thing is done to an account as its normal balance it increases; when the opposite is done, it will decrease. Much like signs in math: two positive numbers are added and two negative numbers are also added. It is only when there is one positive and one negative (opposites) that you will subtract.