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Trial Balance vs. Balance Sheet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 10, 2023
Trial Balance is a listing of ledger account balances, while a Balance Sheet represents a statement of assets, liabilities, and equity.

Key Differences

Trial Balance and Balance Sheet are both vital aspects of accounting. Trial Balance is essentially a worksheet where all ledger accounts are listed in debit or credit columns to ensure that a company's accounting system is mathematically correct. On the other hand, a Balance Sheet provides a snapshot of a company's financial position at a specific point in time, detailing its assets, liabilities, and equity.
In the preparation of financial statements, Trial Balance acts as the first step, ensuring that debits equal credits. It doesn’t provide information about the financial health of a business but merely checks the arithmetic accuracy of the ledger accounts. Balance Sheet, conversely, is one of the primary financial statements, reflecting the financial position of a company, showcasing its solvency and liquidity.
While Trial Balance is an internal document, primarily used by accountants to prepare other financial reports, Balance Sheet is an external document shared with stakeholders, investors, and other interested parties. Trial Balance only ensures the correctness of entries, but the Balance Sheet validates and presents these entries in a structured manner.
Furthermore, Trial Balance encompasses all accounts, irrespective of their nature. It includes revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity accounts. On the flip side, a Balance Sheet only consists of asset, liability, and equity accounts. It doesn't include temporary or nominal accounts like the revenue or expense accounts.
Lastly, Trial Balance is prepared more frequently, sometimes monthly or quarterly, to verify the equality of debit and credit entries. The Balance Sheet, however, is typically prepared at the end of the accounting year, giving stakeholders a yearly perspective on the company's financial health.

Comparison Chart


Ensures arithmetic accuracy of ledger accounts.
Showcases the financial position at a specific point in time.

Nature of Document


Accounts Included

All accounts (revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities).
Only asset, liability, and equity accounts.

Frequency of Preparation

Monthly or quarterly.
Typically annually.

Indication of Financial Health

Doesn’t indicate financial health.
Indicates solvency, liquidity, and overall financial health.

Trial Balance and Balance Sheet Definitions

Trial Balance

An intermediary step before drafting the Balance Sheet and Income Statement.
After the Trial Balance was approved, the team began working on the Balance Sheet.

Balance Sheet

A financial statement showcasing a company's assets, liabilities, and equity at a given time.
The Balance Sheet revealed the company's strong liquidity position.

Trial Balance

A preliminary step in the accounting cycle to confirm the equality of debits and credits.
The Trial Balance is essential for maintaining the integrity of our financial records.

Balance Sheet

A representation of a company's net worth derived from its assets minus liabilities.
The CEO analyzed the Balance Sheet to assess the firm's financial health.

Trial Balance

A list of all ledger account balances to verify debits equal credits.
The accountant prepared the Trial Balance to check for any discrepancies.

Balance Sheet

An external report detailing what a company owns and owes.
The Balance Sheet indicated a significant increase in long-term liabilities.

Trial Balance

An internal accounting tool to ensure accuracy before finalizing financial statements.
Before presenting the annual report, the Trial Balance was scrutinized for errors.

Balance Sheet

A snapshot of an entity's financial position on a specific date.
The annual Balance Sheet was presented at the shareholder's meeting.

Trial Balance

A worksheet displaying debit and credit balances from ledger accounts.
The Trial Balance showed an imbalance, indicating an error in data entry.

Balance Sheet

A statement reflecting the culmination of an accounting period's transactions.
The end-of-year Balance Sheet provided insights into the company's growth.


What is a Trial Balance?

A Trial Balance is a list of all ledger accounts with their respective debit or credit balances.

Why is a Trial Balance prepared?

A Trial Balance is prepared to ensure the arithmetic accuracy of ledger accounts before finalizing financial statements.

Can discrepancies be found in the Trial Balance?

Yes, if the total debits don't equal total credits in a Trial Balance, it indicates discrepancies.

What does a Balance Sheet indicate?

A Balance Sheet indicates a company's financial position, showcasing its assets, liabilities, and equity.

Does a Trial Balance indicate a company's financial health?

No, a Trial Balance only ensures arithmetic accuracy and doesn't indicate financial health.

How is a Balance Sheet different from a Trial Balance?

A Balance Sheet is a financial statement representing a company's assets, liabilities, and equity, whereas a Trial Balance ensures that debits equal credits.

Which document is prepared first, Trial Balance or Balance Sheet?

Trial Balance is prepared before the Balance Sheet.

What happens after preparing the Trial Balance?

After the Trial Balance, financial statements like the Balance Sheet and Income Statement are prepared.

Is the Trial Balance a mandatory step in the accounting process?

Yes, the Trial Balance is essential to ensure debits and credits balance before preparing financial statements.

Is the Balance Sheet an internal or external document?

The Balance Sheet is an external document presented to stakeholders, investors, and other interested parties.

When is a Balance Sheet typically prepared?

A Balance Sheet is generally prepared at the end of an accounting year.

How often should a Trial Balance be prepared?

Typically, a Trial Balance can be prepared monthly or quarterly, depending on the company's needs.

What if the Trial Balance doesn't tally?

If the Trial Balance doesn't tally, it suggests errors that need to be rectified before finalizing financial statements.

What's the primary objective of a Balance Sheet?

The primary objective of a Balance Sheet is to provide a snapshot of a company's financial position at a specific date.

Who is responsible for preparing the Balance Sheet?

Accountants or financial departments typically prepare the Balance Sheet.

Which stakeholders analyze the Balance Sheet?

Stakeholders like investors, creditors, and regulators analyze the Balance Sheet to understand a company's financial position.

What types of accounts appear on the Balance Sheet?

The Balance Sheet includes asset, liability, and equity accounts.

Are revenue accounts found on the Balance Sheet?

No, revenue accounts are not part of the Balance Sheet; they appear on the Income Statement.

Can a company operate without preparing a Trial Balance?

While possible, it's not recommended, as the Trial Balance ensures the accuracy of accounting entries.

Can a Trial Balance be shared with external parties?

Generally, a Trial Balance is an internal document and isn't shared externally.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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