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Standard Chart of Accounts

See Also:
Chart of Accounts (COA)
Problems in Chart of Accounts Design
Complex Number for SGA Expenses
Role of a Company Back Office

Standard Chart of Accounts

In accounting, a standard chart of accounts is a numbered list of the accounts that comprise a company’s general ledger. Furthermore, the company chart of accounts is basically a filing system for categorizing all of a company’s accounts as well as classifying all transactions according to the accounts they affect. The standard chart of accounts list of categories may include the following:

The standard chart of accounts is also called the uniform chart of accounts. Use a chart of accounts template to prepare the basic chart of accounts for any subsidiary companies or related entities. By doing so, you make consolidation easier.

Organize in Numerical System

Furthermore, a standard chart of accounts is organized according to a numerical system. Thus, each major category will begin with a certain number, and then the sub-categories within that major category will all begin with the same number. If assets are classified by numbers starting with the digit 1, then cash accounts might be labeled 101, accounts receivable might be labeled 102, inventory might be labeled 103, and so on. Whereas, if liabilities accounts are classified by numbers starting with the digit 2, then accounts payable might be labeled 201, short-term debt might be labeled 202, and so on.

Number of Accounts Needed

Depending on the size of the company, the chart of accounts may include either few dozen accounts or a few thousand accounts. Whereas, if a company is more sophisticated, then the chart of accounts can be either paper-based or computer-based. In conclusion, the standard chart of account is useful for analyzing past transactions and using historical data to forecast future trends.

You can use the following example of chart of accounts to set up the general ledger of most companies. In addition, you may customize your COA to your industry by adding to the Inventory, Revenue and Cost of Goods Sold sections to the sample chart of accounts.


Refer to the following sample chart of accounts. Each company’s chart of accounts may look slightly different. But if you are starting from scratch, then the following is great place to start.


1010 CASH Operating Account
1020 CASH Debitors
1030 CASH Petty Cash


1210 A/REC Trade
1220 A/REC Trade Notes Receivable
1230 A/REC Installment Receivables
1240 A/REC Retainage Withheld
1290 A/REC Allowance for Uncollectible Accounts


1310 INV – Reserved
1320 INV – Work-in-Progress
1330 INV – Finished Goods
1340 INV – Reserved
1350 INV – Unbilled Cost & Fees
1390 INV – Reserve for Obsolescence


1410 PREPAID – Insurance
1420 PREPAID – Real Estate Taxes
1430 PREPAID – Repairs & Maintenance
1440 PREPAID – Rent
1450 PREPAID – Deposits


1510 PPE – Buildings
1520 PPE – Machinery & Equipment
1530 PPE – Vehicles
1540 PPE – Computer Equipment
1550 PPE – Furniture & Fixtures
1560 PPE – Leasehold Improvements


1610 ACCUM DEPR Buildings
1620 ACCUM DEPR Machinery & Equipment
1630 ACCUM DEPR Vehicles
1640 ACCUM DEPR Computer Equipment
1650 ACCUM DEPR Furniture & Fixtures
1660 ACCUM DEPR Leasehold Improvements


1710 NCA – Notes Receivable
1720 NCA – Installment Receivables
1730 NCA – Retainage Withheld




1910 Organization Costs
1920 Patents & Licenses
1930 Intangible Assets – Capitalized Software Costs




2110 A/P Trade
2120 A/P Accrued Accounts Payable
2130 A/P Retainage Withheld
2150 Current Maturities of Long-Term Debt
2160 Bank Notes Payable
2170 Construction Loans Payable


2210 Accrued – Payroll
2220 Accrued – Commissions
2230 Accrued – FICA
2240 Accrued – Unemployment Taxes
2250 Accrued – Workmen’s Comp
2260 Accrued – Medical Benefits
2270 Accrued – 401 K Company Match
2275 W/H – FICA
2280 W/H – Medical Benefits
2285 W/H – 401 K Employee Contribution


2310 Accrued – Rent
2320 Accrued – Interest
2330 Accrued – Property Taxes
2340 Accrued – Warranty Expense


2510 Accrued – Federal Income Taxes
2520 Accrued – State Income Taxes
2530 Accrued – Franchise Taxes
2540 Deferred – FIT Current
2550 Deferred – State Income Taxes




2710 LTD – Notes Payable
2720 LTD – Mortgages Payable
2730 LTD – Installment Notes Payable




3100 Common Stock
3200 Preferred Stock
3300 Paid in Capital
3400 Partners Capital
3500 Member Contributions
3900 Retained Earnings


4600 Interest Income
4700 Other Income
4800 Finance Charge Income
4900 Sales Returns and Allowances
4950 Sales Discounts


5700 Freight
5800 Inventory Adjustments
5900 Purchase Returns and Allowances
5950 Reserved


6010 Advertising Expense
6050 Amortization Expense
6100 Auto Expense
6150 Bad Debt Expense
6200 Bank Charges
6250 Cash Over and Short
6300 Commission Expense
6350 Depreciation Expense
6400 Employee Benefit Program
6550 Freight Expense
6600 Gifts Expense
6650 Insurance – General
6700 Interest Expense
6750 Professional Fees
6800 License Expense
6850 Maintenance Expense
6900 Meals and Entertainment
6950 Office Expense
7000 Payroll Taxes
7050 Printing
7150 Postage
7200 Rent
7250 Repairs Expense
7300 Salaries Expense
7350 Supplies Expense
7400 Taxes – FIT Expense
7500 Utilities Expense
7900 Gain/Loss on Sale of Assets

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standard chart of accounts

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standard chart of accounts

Originally posted by Jim Wilkinson on July 24, 2013. 

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Work in Progress

What is Work in Progress?

In accounting, a work in progress (WIP) account is an inventory account that includes goods that are in the process of being produced but are not yet finished. This account represents the costs of resources used but not yet turned into completed products. Also refer to the work in progress account as work in process. It is one of the inventory accounts commonly used to track the flow of costs in a production process. Other common inventory accounts include raw materials and finished goods. Inventory accounts are reported as current assets on the company’s balance sheet. Use these accounts for internal analysis as well as external financial reporting.

Cost of Goods Manufactured Calculation

Compute the cost of goods manufactured in a fiscal period using cost data relating to the work in progress account. Simply start with the beginning balance of the work in progress account. Then add the costs of resources transferred into the account during the relevant period. Finally, subtract the ending balance of the work in progress account for that period. As a result, you will get the cost of goods manufactured for that period.

Cost of Goods Manufactured = Beginning Balance + Transfers In – Ending Balance

Flow of Costs

Costs that are represented in the work in progress account include direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead. As work proceeds in a production process, costs flow from the raw materials inventory account, into the work in progress inventory account, and then into the finished goods account. Represent all of these costs as current assets in inventory accounts on the balance sheet. Once you sell the finished goods, transfer the associated costs to the cost of goods sold account on the income statement.

Raw Materials → Work in Process → Finished Goods → Cost of Goods Sold

Just-in-Time and WIP

The work in progress account represents a cost to the company. These costs are storage costs and obsolescence costs. But holding inventory is costly – it takes up storage space and requires supervisory monitoring. The longer a company hold goods in storage, the higher the risk of these goods becoming obsolete. Therefore, they will decrease in value. Just-in-time inventory system strives to minimize the amount of inventory held in the work in progress account. Therefore, it reduces the costs associated with holding inventory.

work in progress


Hilton, Ronald W., Michael W. Maher, Frank H. Selto. “Cost Management Strategies for Business Decision”, Mcgraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY, 2008.

See Also:
Balance Sheet
Working Capital
Working Capital Analysis
Income Statement
Inventory Shrinkage

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Markup Definition

See Also:
Retail Markup Example
Margin vs Markup
Buyer Bargaining Power (one of Porter’s Five Forces)
Supplier Power (one of Porter’s Five Forces)
Free Cash Flow Analysis

Retail Markup Definition

Retail markup is the difference between the price of a product and the cost of that product. Retail markup percentage is the retail markup as a percentage of a product’s unit cost. This method is commonly used to find the price of retail products which are somewhat of a commodity. Costs are fixed, and the market dictates purchasing price. Furthermore, many industries have a standard retail markup percentage which most products are sold at.

The retail markup definition is common to many products, services, and industries. Where retail sales are occurring, it is likely that someone used the retail markup calculator. It is important to note that retail markup, margin, and other comparisons of cost of goods sold and price are not the same.

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Retail Markup Formula

To find the retail Markup amount in dollars: Retail Markup = Sales price – Cost

To find the retail Markup percentage: Retail Markup = Markup amount / Retail Price

Retail Markup Calculation

For example, if a product’s unit cost is $10 and its retail price is $15, then the retail markup is $5:

Retail markup = Retail price – Unit cost = $15 – $10 = $5

and the retail markup percentage is 50%:

Retail markup percentage = (Retail markup/Unit cost) = ($5/$10) = 50%.

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Markup Definition

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Markup Definition

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Product Costs vs Period Costs

See Also:
Product Pricing Strategies

Product Costs vs Period Costs

In accounting, all costs incurred by a company can be categorized as either product costs or period costs. The two types of costs are recorded differently.

Product costs are applied to the products the company produces and sells. Product costs refer to all costs incurred to obtain or produce the end-products. Examples of product costs include the cost of raw materials, direct labor, and overhead. Before the products are sold, these costs are recorded in inventory accounts on the balance sheet. They are treated like assets. Product costs are sometimes referred to as “inventoriable costs.” When the products are sold, these costs are expensed as costs of goods sold on the income statement.

Period costs are the costs that cannot be directly linked to the production of end-products. Essentially, a period cost is any cost that is not a product cost. Examples of period costs include sales costs and administrative costs. Period costs are always expensed on the income statement during the period in which they are incurred.

In sum, product costs are inventoried on the balance sheet before being expensed on the income statement. Period costs are just expensed on the income statement.

Product Costs vs Period Costs

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Problems in Chart of Accounts Design

See also:
Standard Chart of Accounts
Chart of Accounts (COA)
Complex COA Number for SGA Expenses
Example Chart of Accounts for Selling General and Administrative
Time Saving Tip for Filing Vendor Invoices

Problems in Chart of Accounts Design

Too Many General Ledger Accounts

Often when using QuickBooks or Peachtree accounting software the number of general ledger accounts grow over time. Usually the person entering the data is not a trained accountant. When faced with an accounting entry that is not specifically described by an existing general ledger account they will often set up a new account. It is especially easy to do in QuickBooks.

Too Much Detail in Selling General and Administrative Expenses

Similar to the problem mentioned above, often the person maintaining the general ledger is a detail oriented employee. This trait is both a blessing and a curse. The theory goes as follows: If a little detail is good then a lot is better! In order to get more and more detail on the general ledger they set up new general ledger accounts. In the end they are counting paperclips with numerous accounts with less than a thousand dollars charged to them.

Not Enough Detail in Revenue and Cost of Goods Sold Categories

Often revenue consists of one line item labeled “Sales” and “Cost of Goods Sold” as another line item. On the other hand there is considerable detail in Selling General and Administrative expenses. Most accountants manage profitability by controlling costs, however, you can create more value by managing “above the line” or gross margin.

Cost of Goods Sold Not Aligned with Revenue

It is not uncommon to see revenue sorted by product or category and the Cost of Goods Sold being tracked under a different segregation. You should sort revenue and Cost of Goods Sold by the same methodology so you can manage gross profit by category.

No Logic in Assigning General Ledger Account Numbers

Account numbers, especially in Selling General and Administrative expenses, are not assigned in any logical order. Accounts are not entered alphabetically or within a logical grouping. Consequently, it is difficult for the clerical staff to code payables properly or consistently.

Poor Titles on General Ledger Account Descriptions

In some instances, you may use acronyms to title accounts. This makes it difficult for a reader of the financial statements to decipher the accounts.

Inadequate Detail in Chart of Accounts

Too little detail in the chart of accounts can be as bad as having too much. An example is having two inventory subsidiary ledgers posting to one general ledger control account making reconciliation difficult.

No Departments, Product Lines or Regional Data Tracked

Part of a company’s strategic plan should be to manage growth and profitability by major categories. By putting this level of detail in the general ledger, you will refocus management’s focus or target on strategic goals.

Chart of Accounts Does Not Relate Back to Pricing Model

In bidding jobs or quoting sales orders it is important to estimate indirect overhead or direct overhead. If you do not compare these estimates to actual results, then over time profitability may suffer.

Using the Chart of Accounts for Job Costing

In companies where job costing is important it is common to see the Chart of Accounts used to track job cost. This is a result of not setting up the accounting software properly or not purchasing the appropriate accounting software package.

No Standard Chart of Accounts for Different Companies

In this situation multiple companies are either formed or acquired over time. Because they are often in different industries, use a different Chart of Accounts for each company. It would be preferable to use a standard Chart of Accounts customized in the few areas necessary.

Too Many Digits in Chart of Accounts Numbering

Accountants trained in a large company environment often bring that same logic to an entrepreneurial company. The result is an account numbering system six or more digits long. Most modern day accounting software use departmental accounting making the required digits to be no more than five.

Not Using a Numbering System

QuickBooks is great accounting software for beginners and non-accountants. Consequently, use an alpha system to establish the Chart of Accounts. This practice makes it difficult to sort accounts in anything other than alphabetical order.

Using Alpha Numeric Chart of Accounts

Another problem is using a combination of alpha/numeric accounts. Just as using alpha only systems causes organization problems so does a combination of alpha/numeric.

Not Leaving Gaps in the Numbering System

When you set up a chart of accounts for the first time, assign account numbers sequentially. Later when you want to add an account in alphabetical order there is not a gap in the numbering system to allow you to insert the new account.

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Problems in Chart of Accounts Design


Problems in Chart of Accounts Design

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Perpetual Inventory System

See Also:
Periodic Inventory System
Just In Time Inventory System
How to Manage Inventory
Days Inventory Outstanding Analysis
Inventory Turnover Analysis
Supply Chain and Logistics

Perpetual Inventory System

A perpetual inventory system is a continuously updated inventory management system. This type of system uses technology such as bar coding, computerized production operations, and perpetual inventory software to track and record the costs and flows of inventory at each stage of production, from raw materials, to work-in-process, to finished goods, and finally to cost of goods sold.

Perpetual inventory systems provide continuous and detailed information regarding the location of inventory and the costs of inventory. This type of system can assist companies with financial statement preparation, inventory management, and cost control. Perpetual inventory systems facilitate responses to customer inquiries regarding product availability. They also facilitate effective and efficient inventory purchasing and ordering and decrease the risk of stocking out.

Perpetual vs Periodic Inventory Systems

In cost accounting, there are two methods of tracking and recording inventory costs: periodic inventory systems and perpetual inventory systems.

While perpetual inventory systems continuously update information regarding inventory levels and inventory costs, periodic inventory systems rely on periodic valuations of on-hand inventory. Instead of being continuously updated, inventory costs and levels are only checked and counted periodically.

Whether a company uses a perpetual inventory system or a periodic inventory system will depend on the sophistication of the organization. More sophisticated, larger, and more complex organizations are more likely to use a perpetual inventory system and perpetual inventory software. Meanwhile, less sophisticated companies may still be using periodic inventory systems.

Whether a company uses a perpetual inventory system or a periodic inventory system will also depend on the nature of the business. A company that deals with high volumes of low value products may be more likely to use a periodic inventory system, while a company that deals with low volumes of high value products may be more likely to use a perpetual inventory system.

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Perpetual Inventory System

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Perpetual Inventory System

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Operating Income (EBIT)

See Also:
Operating Income Example
EBITDA Definition
Net Income
Free Cash Flow
Operating Profit Margin Ratio
Time Value of Money (TVM)

Operating Income (EBIT) Definition

What is operating income? Earnings before interest and tax, also know as operating income (EBIT), is defined as a measure of a company’s profit from ordinary operations, excluding interest and tax. EBIT is also called net operating income, operating profit, or net operating profit. Calculate it using the following equation: revenues minus cost of goods sold (COGS) and other operating expenses.

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What is Operating Income? Operating Income Explanation

Operating income is a measure of company operations. It is also one of the most common financial ratios used for valuing a company as a whole. Therefore, it is very valuable, as well, as a measure of the success of a company from period to period. Additionally, it is the measure of the ability of a company to cover costs and make profit. Operating income ratios leaves out interest and taxes, so it does not serve as a net value of the wealth created from a business. More, it is a general tool used to evaluate the operating process and efficiency which ultimately lead to company profits.

One of the overall advantages of using operating income (EBIT) over other financial ratios is in the simplicity and standardization of calculation. Though interest and taxes play an important role in the financial health of a company they do not, generally, make or break the model for success. When evaluating operating income vs net income, ask whether you need a measurement of company operations as a whole or company operations as they lead to profit.

Operating Income Formula

The operating income formula provides a simple calculation for evaluating common business models. Calculating this equation is fairly simple when one has the three following values: revenues, cost of goods sold, and operating expenses.

Operating Profit = Revenues – (COGS + Operating Expenses)

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Operating income (EBIT), What is Operating Income

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Operating Income (EBIT), What is Operating Income

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