The term bookkeeping means different things to different people:
- Some people think that bookkeeping is the same as accounting. They assume that keeping a company’s books and preparing its financial statements and tax reports are all part of bookkeeping. Accountants do not share their view.
- Others see bookkeeping as limited to recording transactions in journals or daybooks and then posting the amounts into accounts in ledgers. After the amounts are posted, the bookkeeping has ended and an accountant with a college degree takes over. The accountant will make adjusting entries and then prepare the financial statements and other reports.
- The past distinctions between bookkeeping and accounting have become blurred with the use of computers and accounting software. For example, a person with little bookkeeping training can use the accounting software to record vendor invoices, prepare sales invoices, etc. and the software will update the accounts in the general ledger automatically. Once the format of the financial statements has been established, the software will be able to generate the financial statements with the click of a button.
- At mid-size and larger corporations the term bookkeeping might be absent. Often corporations have accounting departments staffed with accounting clerks who process accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, etc. The accounting clerks will be supervised by one or more accountants.