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Basic Bookkeeping Terms to Know

Some common terms you come across in the accounting field and what they mean.

Account Types

Accounts Receivable Money owed to your business for services provided and/or products sold. This money counts as revenue earned since you're expecting your customer to pay their bill, and will move from accounts receivable to cash accounts when received. This type of account is listed as an asset on your balance sheet.


Accounts Payable Money owed by you to your vendors and suppliers but have not yet paid. When paid, your accounts payable balance will decrease. Because this is money you owe, it is a liability account on the balance sheet.


Assets These are tangible and/or intangible items your business owns that can be turned into cash. Items include vehicles, software, equipment and machinery, cash you already have on hand, cash to be received.


Costs of Goods Sold (COGS)

COGS is money spent by the business to purchase and/or manufacture goods for sale. It can include labor, freight, and materials. For instance, a plumbing company would consider the purchase of plumbing materials as part of their COGS as those materials are used to manufacture and install the finished product.


These are balances owed on loans, credit cards, and payables invoices. Liability accounts are shown on your balance sheet.



This is money invested in the business by the owner(s). How it is organized can vary by entity type. For instance, a small business may use owner's draws for paying out the owner when payroll is not required while incorporated business will use equity accounts to pay dividends to owners.



Money spent by the business that's not directly tied to the sale of goods and services. This may include rent, utilities, administrative payroll.



Money earned by your business in the course of selling goods and/or providing services. Transactions for revenue are recorded to income accounts on your chart of accounts and tracked on your Profit & Loss statement.


Common Report Types
Other Terms

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