What is a Normal Balance? Definition, Example, 10 Facts

Accurate recordkeeping is essential for financial management and making educated business decisions. However, you must have a basic comprehension of accounting terminology to set up and maintain your accounting records.

What is the average account balance? Which account has a standard credit balance and which has a standard debit balance? To discover more, please read this article.

What is a Normal Balance?

A normal balance in accounting terminology refers to the sort of balance that is deemed typical or expected for each type of account. It could be a debit balance or a credit balance. Normal account balances for assets and expenses are debit balances. For liability, equity, and income accounts, the average balance is a credit.

Using the Normal Balance

Using double-entry accounting, firms are able to preserve precise and trustworthy financial records. This way of recording financial transactions would not exist if the normal balance did not exist.

What is a Normal Balance?

It is vital to understand that a standard credit balance account may or may not have a debit balance. This could be the result of a recording error. In order to easily detect data input errors, it is essential to understand what a given account’s normal balance should be.

There are various instances in which a credit-balanced account may display a debit balance or vice versa. This outcome may be ascribed to an item that reversed a transaction that occurred in a prior year and was already credited to the account.

Alternatively, a bookkeeper may have made an offsetting entry earlier to the entry it was intended to offset.

If a bank account does not exhibit the expected balance, this is a red flag. If the reason is not immediately apparent, you should visit your bookkeeper or accountant as soon as possible.

How a normal balance works

Normal balances

Clarification can be gained by observing an illustration of how a normal balance is achieved. Consider the preceding case.

In a double-entry accounting system, this is the overview you would see. Note, however, the multiple sorts of accounts mentioned here:

  • Cash Advances owing
  • Supplies
  • Notes payable

Observe how each account may be represented in the table below. This demonstrates how the debit or credit input impacts the account and displays the account’s usual balance.

Let’s begin by examining the cash and supplies accounts. Both cash and supply are accounts of assets. In such cases, the regular balance is a debit.

The loans payable and notes payable accounts follow. The accounts for loans payable and notes payable are both liabilities. In such situations, the standard balance is a credit balance.

Accounts chart

When you put the aforementioned data into a chart of accounts, you may determine if all of your accounts have the expected typical balance. This table provides the average balance for each account type. You can also view the effect of a debit or credit input on each account type.

A practical normal balance example

A normal balancing example might summarize the above knowledge. Consider an account for corporate assets, which should have a standard debit balance. You must ensure this is true for this particular business asset account. Examine the March cash account for the company.

The regular balance of the asset account should be on the debit side. This is the case, as the left-hand side of the balance displays a negative of $3,000.

What is a Normal Balance?

Now suppose that the business’s cash account was not what you anticipated. Instead of having $3,000 on the debit side, this account displays $3,000 on the credit side; this is not desirable for an asset account.

In this situation, you would want to determine why the account balance is not typical. There may have been an error in the journal entry, a credit from an earlier transaction, or checks that have been written but not yet funded.

Understanding debits and credits

What are Debits and Credits?

A deeper grasp of debits and credits might aid in the clarification of the concept of normal balance. A double-entry accounting system employs the phrases “debit” and “credit.”

Each business transaction is recorded twice in this method, in two separate accounting journal entries: one for debit and one for credit.

The double-entry technique also maintains equity, liabilities, and assets in addition to revenue (accounts receivable) and expenses (accounts payable). This differentiates double-accounting from single-accounting, which just tracks revenue and expenses.

This is how it may appear in your double-entry accounting system.

As can be seen, each transaction corresponds to two journal entries. You can quickly determine which accounts are affected and how. Since the debits and credits for each entry total zero, the general ledger would be declared balanced.

How does the concept of normal accounts factor into this? The cash account is an asset account with a standard negative balance. The account for loans payable is a liability account with a typical credit balance.

What is a Normal Balance?

The account for supplies is an asset account with a regular debit balance. The account for notes payable is a liability account with a regular credit balance.

The equation

Normal balance pertains to the accounting equation that is the foundation of double-entry bookkeeping:Assets = liabilities + owner’s equityThis equation reveals whether a debit or credit entry affects a particular account. The typical balance is the expected debit or credit balance.

If you need assistance with your calculations, Upwork can connect you with independent bookkeepers who possess the necessary expertise.

Debit and Credit Examples

A simple example of a debit and credit journal entry within a general ledger is provided below.

What is a Normal Balance?

This general ledger sample demonstrates a journal entry for the collection of a receivable. Since both accounts are asset accounts, a $15,000 debit to the cash account will increase the cash balance while a $15,000 credit to the accounts receivable account will decrease the account balance.

When we add up the account balances, we find that the debits and credits are equal, indicating that we have properly accounted for them.

To illustrate how IU’s general ledger debit and credit procedure works, the following graphic was extracted from the IUIE database.

Employees who are responsible for the accounting activities of their organization will see a file similar to the one below more frequently. This example of a general ledger entry depicts the payment (cash) of postage (expense) within the Academic Support responsibility center (RC).

This transaction will necessitate a journal entry involving a cash account and an expense account. Note that in this instance, an automatic off-set entry will be posted to cash and IU users cannot publish directly to any of the currency object codes.

Because $12.70 was spent on postage, the cash asset account will be credited, decreasing the cash amount by $12.70. In contrast, purchasing postage constitutes an expense and will therefore be deducted, resulting in a $12.70 increase to the expense balance.

When the account balances are totaled, the debits and credits should balance, indicating that the Academic Support RC has appropriately recorded this transaction.

Income Statement T-Accounts

A regular balance is the side of the T-account where the balance typically appears. When a sum is accounted for on the account’s regular balance side, it raises the account’s balance. In contrast, when an amount is accounted for on the opposite side of its normal balance, the amount drops.

Balance Sheet T-Accounts:

Debits and credits within IU’s KFS are commonly referred to as “to” and “from” accounts. Like debits and credits, these accounts raise and decrease the income, expense, asset, and liability accounts, as well as the net asset account.

Keep track of your financials the right way

Accurate accounting enables your company to meet its financial commitments. This is also a means to monitor the success of your firm over time, which can influence your long-term financial planning with significant information.

What is a Normal Balance?

The information in your financial statements will also be utilized to generate financial statements for shareholders and other external parties.

You may opt to handle your day-to-day financial data using apps and other resources. However, when you need to utilize complex accounting equations and generate financial statements, it is advisable to hire an expert.

Look for independent bookkeepers on Upwork, which gives a global pool of qualified individuals from which to choose. You can browse independent professionals based on details such as price and reviews, ensuring that you get the most qualified professional for your business’s requirements.

Requirements and Best Practices

This section describes the criteria and best practices for Accounting Fundamentals – Normal Balances.

Although not mandatory, the best practices indicated below enable users to obtain a more accurate view of the entity’s financial health and to recognize possible problems more frequently. This enables firms to uncover flaws, blunders, and hazards that can be rapidly fixed and averted in the future.

What is a Normal Account Balance?

A typical balance is the assumption that a specific type of account will have a debit or credit balance based on its classification in the chart of accounts.

What is a Normal Balance?

It is conceivable for an account assumed to have a typical amount as a debit to actually have a credit balance, and vice versa; nevertheless, these instances should be rare. The following table details the average balance for each account type.

Account Type Normal Debit Balance Normal Credit Balance
Asset Yes
Contra Asset Yes
Liability Yes
Contra Liability Yes
Equity Yes
Contra Equity Yes
Revenue Yes
Contra Revenue Yes
Expense Yes
Gain Yes
Loss Yes

A contra account has a normal balance that is the opposite of the typical balance for the account type. The contra accounts listed in the previous table are ordinarily established as reserves against decreases in the average balance of the accounts with which they are matched.

For instance, a counter asset account such as the allowance for doubtful accounts holds a credit balance that is designed as a reserve against accounts receivable that will not be paid.

The normal amount for a counter equity account is the opposite of the normal balance for an equity account. This is because the contra equity account typically refers to treasury stock, which is stock that the business has repurchased.

There are numerous reasons why an account’s balance could be the opposite of its typical balance, including:

  • A journal entry was recorded in error in the incorrect account.
  • A journal entry reverses a prior-year transaction that has already been eliminated from the account.
  • Prior to the entry it was intended to counteract, an offsetting entry was recorded.


A normal balance in accounting is the expected debit or credit balance for a certain account. This notion is utilized frequently in the double-entry accounting system.

In a corporate asset account, for example, the regular balance would be comprised of debits (i.e., incoming cash). You anticipate that your asset account will have a negative usual balance. In contrast, a liability account’s regular balance would consist of credits, or money you owe. Your credit account should have a typical credit balance.


A normal balance is the side of the T-account where the balance is normally found. When an amount is accounted for on its normal balance side, it increases that account. On the contrary, when an amount is accounted for on the opposite side of its normal balance, it decreases that amount.
Assets have a normal debit balance, while liabilities and owner’s equity have normal credit balances.
Category Normal Balance To Increase
Asset Debit Debit
Liability Credit Credit
Fund Balance Credit Credit
Revenue Credit Credit
The normal balance of liability account is Credit balance. Normal balance is the side where the balance of the account is normally found. Asset accounts normally have debit balances, while liabilities and capital normally have credit balances. Income has a normal credit balance since it increases capital .
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