Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Bookkeeping


Full Definition of Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping (also book-keeping or book keeping) is the recording of all financial transactions undertaken by an individual or organization. The organization may be a business, a charitable organization or even a local sports club. Bookkeeping is “keeping records of what is bought, sold, owed, and owned; what money comes in, what goes out, and what is left.” A financial transaction is any event that involves money.

Individual and family bookkeeping involves keeping track of income and expenses in a cash account record, checking account register, or savings account passbook. Individuals who borrow or lend money also track how much they owe to others or are owed from others.

Bookkeeping may be performed using paper and a pen or pencil. With increasing complexity in tax regulations and to minimize calculation errors, many organizations use accounting software to assist in bookkeeping.

Two common bookkeeping methods used by businesses and other organizations are the single-entry bookkeeping system and the double-entry bookkeeping system. Single-entry bookkeeping uses only income and expense accounts, recorded primarily in a “Revenue and Expense Journal”. Single-entry bookkeeping is adequate for many small businesses. Double-entry bookkeeping requires posting (recording) each transaction twice, using debits and credits.

A bookkeeper (or book-keeper), sometimes called an accounting clerk in the United States, is a person who records the day-to-day financial transactions of an organization. A bookkeeper is usually responsible for writing up the “daybooks”. The daybooks consist of purchase, sales, receipts and payments. The bookkeeper is responsible for ensuring that all transactions are recorded in the correct daybook, suppliers ledger, customer ledger and general ledger. The bookkeeper brings the books to the trial balance stage. An accountant may prepare the profit and loss statement and balance sheet using the trial balance and ledgers prepared by the bookkeeper.

Single Account Bookkeeping

Simple bookkeeping for individuals and families involves recording income, expenses and current balance in a cash record book or a checking account register.

Single-Entry Bookkeeping

The primary bookkeeping record in single-entry bookkeeping is the Revenue and Expense Journal, which is similar to a checking account register but allocates the income and expenses to various income and expense accounts. Separate account records are maintained for petty cash, accounts payable and receivable, and other relevant transactions such as inventory and travel expenses.

Computerised Bookkeeping

Computerised bookkeeping removes many of the “books” that are used to record transactions and enforces double-entry bookkeeping. Computer software increases the speed at which bookkeeping can be performed.

Online Bookkeeping

Online bookkeeping allows source documents and data to reside in web-based applications which allow remote access for bookkeepers and accountants. Typically, a company scans its business documents and uploads them to a secure location or into an online bookkeeping application on a regular basis. This allows the bookkeeper to work remotely with these documents to update the books. Users of this technology include:

  • Mobile employees scanning and sending in their receipts and bills while on the road to get reimbursed more quickly.
  • Organizations with multiple offices centralizing their accounting department and having the documents sent to this location online.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Bookkeeping. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
August 08, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Bookkeeping. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: August 08, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Bookkeeping. Retrieved August 08, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Bookkeeping are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 18th April, 2020 | 0 Views.