WHAT IS A CHART OF ACCOUNTS: Definition, Types & Examples

Chart of Account Numbering
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The filing cabinet that houses your accounting system’s data is called a chart of accounts. It classifies transactions into fundamental accounts like assets, liabilities, equity, costs, and revenues. Transactions can be further categorized using sub-accounts. According to the complexity of the company and the level of detail needed from its financial reporting system, a chart of accounts numbering system assigns a code to each account. 

The various financial accounts in the general ledger of your business are listed or indexed in charts of accounts. These accounts are broken down into groups like revenue, liabilities, assets, and outlays. Balance sheets accounts like assets, liabilities, and shareholder equity are displayed first on your financial statements, followed by income statement accounts like revenue and expenses. Depending on your specific needs, you may also want to divide the COA for your company into product lines, business divisions, or business functions. In this article, you will find the needed information on a chart of accounts and its numbering system.

What Is a Chart of Accounts 

A chart of accounts can be used to organize the transactions in your company and show where the money is coming from and going. A chart of accounts is a list of account names that are used to identify transactions and keep track of a business’s finances. It categorizes transactions into groups to make it easier to follow the flow of money into and out of the business.

An organization’s financial ledger accounts are listed in a chart of accounts. Accounting professionals can refer to each account using its unique number thanks to this chart. Although businesses in various industries may employ a variety of chart types, most charts offer information about a company’s financial transactions over a given period.

A simple organization should be used when creating charts of accounts. If their accounts are organized correctly, the typical small business shouldn’t go over this cap. 

How Does a Chart of Accounts Work?

For the purpose of organizing your books, each transaction in accounting is classified by its account and sub-account. These accounts, along with their related subaccounts and balances, are listed in the chart of accounts. In contrast to the balance of a liabilities account, which displays the amount of debt your company has, the balance of an expense account, for example, displays the amount of money spent on running your business.

You might also see a “view register” option next to an account name when looking up information in your chart of accounts. This gives you a history of all the transactions connected to that account over time, making it simpler for you and your accountant to identify mistakes and misclassifications. Typically, each account has both an account number and a description.

Businesses can better organize their finances and communicate with shareholders and other interested parties by using a chart of accounts (COA). This is possible and helps to guarantee that the financial statements comply with reporting standards by separating expenses, revenues, assets, and liabilities. A company can list its accounts in the same order they appear in its financial statements. In other words, you list accounts on the balance sheet, including assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity, first, then accounts from the income statement, including revenues and expenses.  

Chart of Accounts Numbering

The first digit of the account number provided accounting professionals with a way to determine which account a transaction belonged to. For larger businesses, the accounts for assets typically have a number from 100 to 199, and the accounts for liabilities typically have a number from 200 to 299, for example. This keeps the books in their proper order. Small companies with fewer than 250 clients might use a different system of numbers.

The majority of companies employ this reliable, widely used system of account numbers:

  • Assets from 1000 to 1900
  • Liabilities from 2000 to 2900
  • Equity From 3000 to 3900
  • Revenue from 4000 – 4900
  • Expenses from 5000 – 5900

Even though it’s not mandatory to use that format, businesses typically do so because it makes it simpler for an accountant or bookkeeper to intervene and translate the data into conventional financial reports. 

Account Types

The balance sheet is a summary of the assets, liabilities, and equity accounts, and it shows the company’s current financial situation and whether or not it has any outstanding debts. Typically, the chart of accounts starts with the balance sheet accounts. The income statement, reveals details about the long-term profitability of a company and comprises expense and revenue accounts. 

#1. Assets

Resources that businesses exchange for cash and thus have a monetary value are assets of the company. Your receivables from customers and tangible assets like furniture, a house, and machinery are a few examples of assets.

#2. Liabilities

All of the money that your business owes to other people is classified as a liability. Accounts payable, any unpaid taxes, and any loans that a business must repay fall under this category.

#3. Equity

Whether you set up your company as a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation affects how they classify equity in the COA. Depending on how you set up your company, this could include owner equity or shareholder equity. The fundamental formula for calculating equity is the assets less the liabilities of a company.

#4. Revenue

Your company’s revenue is the sum of money it makes by charging customers for its goods or services. A company realizes its revenue from the actual sale of its goods and services to consumers.

#5. Expenses

The costs you incur while operating your business are expenses. Your office rent, utilities, and supplies would all fall under this category. This is what a company incurs daily in running the business.

Importance of Chart of Accounts

We can claim that a COA fulfills the same function in a company’s financial analysis. Similar to how a map would in getting somewhere. As a result, it makes it simple for the user to find a specific account using its account number.

Every business organization can use the COA because it is adaptable, and meets their needs. Anyone examining the company’s financial situation can gain a comprehensive understanding of costs and revenues by using a COA, a financial tool.

#1. Understand Your Earnings

Beyond just revealing your income, a chart of accounts provides you with valuable insight into your company’s revenue. It displays your income’s peaks and troughs as well as the amount and duration of your available cash flow based on your typical monthly business expenses.

#2. Organize Your Debts

You can clearly see the total debt, including both short- and long-term obligations, in a chart of accounts. Your COA can assist you in determining how much of your monthly income you can allocate to paying down debt as well as in creating longer-term debt repayment strategies.

#3. Smarter Spending

Although it’s not always enjoyable to see a simple list of everything you spend your hard-earned money on, the chart of accounts can provide you with valuable insight into your spending patterns. You can manage your regular, necessary costs, such as rent, utilities, and internet. Additionally, you can look at your other costs to see if there are any areas where you can reduce spending.

#4. Improve Your Reporting

Your finances are organized using a chart of accounts, which uses a simple system of numbered accounts. The creation of detailed financial reports, such as a cash flow statement, balance sheet, and income statement, that will help you comprehend the financial situation of your company will be simpler for you or an accounting expert if your chart of accounts is accurate. You can alter your COA’s formatting so that it corresponds with the unique requirements of your company. 

#5. Report Taxes

Possessing a properly set up chart of accounts has the added benefit of making tax season less complicated. The COA keeps track of the revenue and costs associated with your business, which you must disclose on your annual income tax return.

What Is a Chart of Accounts in Accounting 

A chart of accounts (COA), which lists every account in a company’s general ledger in detail and subcategories, is a tool for organizing finances. Businesses employ COA to organize funds and provide interested parties—such as shareholders and investors—a greater awareness of a business’s financial situation.

Each chart of accounts typically includes a name, a short description, and an identification code to make it simpler for readers to locate particular accounts. 

Chart of Accounts Numbering

Chart of accounts numbering is the setting up of the accounts’ structure and giving each general ledger account a unique code of identification. The way that financial data is stored and handled depends heavily on the numbering scheme that is employed. An account chart’s structure should be taken into consideration when choosing the first numbering scheme. The numbering system’s goal is to group related accounts so that you can quickly recall and refer to them when writing journal entries. The following elements make up the following account number layout:

  • Division code: This typically two-digit code designates a particular business division within a multi-divisional organization. It isn’t used by a business with just one entity. If there are more than 99 subsidiaries, the code may be increased to three digits.
  • A department code is typically a two-digit number that designates a particular division of a business, such as the accounting, engineering, or production divisions.
  • Account codes, such as those for fixed assets, revenue, or supplies expense, are typically three digits long and serve as the account’s identification.

Steps for Numbering a Chart of Accounts

#1. Identify the Various Types of Accounts the Business Has

Finding out which accounts the company has and categorizing them following those findings are the first steps in creating a number chart of accounts. The eight account types may not be the same for every business, but the majority of them have accounts for assets, liabilities, capital, revenue, and cost of goods sold. Accounts for equipment and supplies, for example, maybe more frequent in industries that fall under the service or manufacturing sectors.

#2. Select Your Codes

Financial managers and accountants can organize all the financial data associated with the company using the unique set of codes that each chart of accounts has. Account numbers have three unique codes in them. Account codes, Department codes, and Division codes are some examples. 

#3. Select a Numbering System 

Choose a numbering scheme for each type of account so that you can quickly identify all of the company’s accounts. Pick a numbering scheme that makes sense to you and is simple to recall. You might decide to list the company’s liabilities as ranging from $1,000 to $29,00 and its assets as ranging from $1,000 to $1,00. While you’re numbering your accounts, it might be helpful to look over a sample template. 

Chart of Accounts Best Practices

#1. Delay Deleting Previous Accounts

It’s best to postpone the deletion of old accounts until the year’s end to avoid messing up your books. Tax season can be complicated by account mergers or renaming. However, you can always include more accounts.

#2. Be Cautious When Managing Your Accounts

Organize your accounts in a way that provides you with key data. This does not imply that every transaction’s specifics must be recorded. Each product you sell does not require its account, nor does each utility require its account. It is possible to group some things.

#3. Try to be Consistent

Make a chart of accounts with minimal yearly change. This enables you to evaluate how well you are handling the financial aspects of your company by comparing the performance of various accounts over time.

#4. Clean Up Your Accounts

Check all of your accounts to see if there is a chance for consolidation at the end of the year. Account management will be easier as a result.

#5. Make Distinct Accounts for Significant Entries

When making your numbered chart of accounts, it can be useful to separate significant non-cash account entries. By doing this, you can increase the accuracy of your financial reporting. Additionally, it can assist you in determining which accounts are the most pertinent after the reporting period. Consider purchasing accounting software to organize your accounts and make managing them easier. 

#6. Be Aware of Indirect Expenses

Expenses that aren’t directly related to a particular cost item are considered indirect costs. The expenses that are important to daily operations are frequently represented by these costs. To calculate indirect costs, many businesses use a metric like labor hours. It is important to take into account all potential indirect costs and account for them in the appropriate accounts when creating a thorough chart of accounts.

What Is the Basic Chart of Accounts? 

A chart of accounts (COA) is an administrative and financial tool that lists each account in an accounting system. This offers information on all of the business’s financial dealings. A separate record for each type of asset, liability, equity, income, and expense is called an account in this context.

You can evaluate the COA to see if all facets of your company are operating as efficiently as they possibly can. Comparing results using data from multiple years will be simpler if you maintain the same COA format over time. This serves as a report on the company’s financial health, which is helpful to shareholders and investors in addition to business owners

What Is the Difference Between Coa and GL? 

Your financial information is kept in the general ledger, and the chart of accounts (COA) lists the accounts to which each general ledger entry is posted. An established chart of accounts that can support your company is part of Business Central. All accounting and financial entries are located on the GL, and the data from those entries is what is used to produce financial statements. The term “chart of accounts” refers to a list of every account that is used to record financial position and activity in the GL.   

Lists of all the accounts that a business uses are called charts of accounts. Simpler versions might only include a list of the names of the accounts and their subaccounts, while more complex versions might also prenumber or codify the accounts. The general ledger, also known as the debit-credit entries, is a centralized register that contains all transactions that have been posted to all accounts. It is possible to organize the general ledger structure using the chart of accounts.

What Are the 3 Types of Accounts? 

Accounting has three types of accounts, according to the traditional approach: Real, Personal, and Nominal.

What Is the Difference Between a Chart of Accounts and a Main Account? 

The general ledger’s setup, which includes the ledger setup, uses the chart of accounts. Accounts in the general ledger are referred to as main accounts. The quantity of main accounts that must be established depends on the accounting procedure and varies between institutions.

What Are the 3 Golden Rules of Accounts? 

  • Debit the receiver and credit the giver
  • Debit what comes in and credit what goes out
  • Debit expenses and losses, credit income and gains

Why Is the Chart of Accounts Important? 

It gives you a broad overview of your company’s operations and the state of its various financial components. gives you a precise understanding of the financial state of your business. presents a clear picture of your company’s financial situation to shareholders and potential investors.

Most importantly, it gives you a precise picture of the state of your company’s finances. This is advantageous for business owners as well as shareholders and investors who might not be familiar with your company’s ongoing operations. A chart of accounts is very helpful for businesses of all sizes because it makes it simpler for companies to adhere to financial reporting standards.


Owners of small businesses who keep a chart of accounts close at hand will benefit from it when it comes to accounting. It is simpler to accurately record financial data from a new account or business transaction under the proper accounting category when all accounts are organized in an easily accessible and simple-to-follow list that is available for review. Per accepted accounting principles, COA assists businesses in setting up, maintaining, and monitoring their financial accounts.

It makes it easier for stakeholders to understand how well a company is doing financially. A current COA will give you a clear picture of the financial standing of your company that you can share with shareholders and prospective investors. It is crucial for financial reporting because it aids in tracking financial statements, keeping track of financial performance, and determining where money is coming from and going.

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