Trial Balance

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DEFINITION of 'Trial Balance'

A bookkeeping worksheet in which the balances of all ledgers are compiled into debit and credit columns. A company prepares a trial balance periodically, usually at the end of every reporting period. The general purpose of producing a trial balance is to ensure the entries in a company's bookkeeping system are mathematically correct.

BREAKING DOWN 'Trial Balance'

Preparing a trial balance for a company serves to detect any mathematical errors that have occurred in the double-entry accounting system. Provided the total debts equal the total credits, the trial balance is considered to be balanced, and there should be no mathematical errors in the ledgers.

However, this does not mean there are no errors in a company's accounting system. For example, transactions classified improperly or those simply missing from the system could still be material accounting errors that would not be detected by the trial balance procedure.

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