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Adjusting Journal Entry


An Adjusting Journal Entry is a financial transaction record and a type of accounting adjustment in a company’s general ledger, made at the end of an accounting period. Its purpose is to bring the company’s financial statements into compliance with the accrual accounting method. This entry can include adjustments to business expenses, revenues, assets or liabilities and is often used to record depreciation, allowances for doubtful accounts, or adjustments related to prepaid expenses and accrued income.


The phonetic transcription of “Adjusting Journal Entry” is: /əˈdʒʌstɪŋ ˈdʒɝːnəl ˈɛntri/

Key Takeaways

  1. Accuracy in Financial Statements: Adjusting Journal Entries (AJEs) are essential for maintaining the accuracy of a company’s financial statements. They ensure that the revenue recognition and expense recognition principles are adhered to, providing a true representation of a company’s financial condition.
  2. Periodical Adjustments: These entries are typically made at the end of an accounting period (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) to match revenues and expenses to the period in which they actually occurred. It includes accrued, deferred, and estimated amounts.
  3. Essential to Account Reconciliation: AJEs are critical in reconciling account differences found during the financial audit. They can help in resolving discrepancies, preventing financial errors, and guaranteeing compliance with the relevant accounting standards.


Adjusting Journal Entry is a critical concept in business and finance as it enables the correct reflection of financial transactions for a specific accounting period. These entries, typically made at the end of an accounting period, aid in achieving matching accuracy between revenues and expenses and ensure that the financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement) provide an accurate and fair view of the company’s financial performance and position. Without these adjustments, the financial reports might be misleading, with inconsistencies in income recognition and asset and liability valuation. Thus, Adjusting Journal Entries play an essential role in maintaining compliance, facilitating financial analysis, decision making, and maintaining transparency with stakeholders.


The primary purpose of an Adjusting Journal Entry (AJE) in finance and business is to ensure that the financial statements reflect an accurate and updated view of a company’s financial situation. These adjustments are typically made at the end of an accounting period, like monthly, quarterly, or yearly, to align the company’s financials with the accrual accounting method. This allows a company to accurately gauge its financial position by matching its income and expenses in the correct period. For instance, if a company recognizes revenue in a future period or incurs an expense that hasn’t been recorded, AJEs provide a mechanism to account for such transactions in the correct periods.Moreover, an Adjusting Journal Entry can be utilized to rectify any anomalies in the accounting books resulting from flawed entries or to account for prepayments and accruals. For instance, if business expenses have been prepaid for future accounting periods, an AJE can be used to allocate such expenses to the right periods, leading to an appropriate illustration of the company’s expenses for each period. Similarly, if revenues or expenses accrue over time and haven’t been recorded, AJEs comprehensively ensure their reflection in the financial statements. By aligning income and expenses with the right periods, AJEs play an instrumental role in providing a true picture of a company’s financial state, aiding strategic and operational decision-making.


1. Depreciation Expense: Let’s say a business purchased an expensive piece of machinery that’s expected to last and be used for 5 years. Rather than expensing the entire cost up front, the cost is spread out over the equipment’s lifespan. An adjusting journal entry is made at the end of each accounting period to account for the depreciation. Assume a company purchased a machine for $50,000 and it has a 5-year life. The depreciation expense will be $10,000 per year. At year’s end, the adjusting entry would be to debit (increase) the depreciation expense account by $10,000 and credit (increase) the accumulated depreciation account by $10,000.2. Accrued Wages: Assume a company has employees that get paid every two weeks, but the pay date falls after the closing of a monthly accounting period. The company still owes these employees for the week of work before the closing. To accurately report labor expense, the company would make an adjusting journal entry debiting the wage expense account and crediting the accrued wages payable account.3. Prepaid Rent: Let’s assume a company prepays its rent for the year at a cost of $120,000. That prepaid rent is initially recorded as an asset. But as each month passes an adjusting entry needs to be made to move the cost from an asset to an expense. Here, an adjusting journal entry would be made at the end of each month debiting (increasing) rent expense $10,000 (120,000/12) and crediting (decreasing) prepaid rent $10,000. This would reflect the amount of prepayment that has been used up or ‘expired’ for the month.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an adjusting journal entry?

An adjusting journal entry is a type of journal entry made in a company’s general ledger at the end of an accounting period, under accrual accounting. It is used to record revenue and expenses that have accrued but are not yet recorded through standard accounting transactions.

Why are adjusting journal entries necessary?

Adjusting journal entries are necessary to bring a company’s accounting records up to date. They ensure that all revenues and expenses from the accounting period are recorded, following the matching principle of accounting, which states that revenue and its related expenses should be matched within the same accounting period.

How often are adjusting journal entries made?

Adjusting journal entries are typically made at the end of an accounting period – monthly, quarterly, or annually. They are not made after each transaction since that would disrupt the flow of business activities.

What are some examples of adjusting journal entries?

Examples include accrued income, accrued expenses, unearned income, and prepaid expenses. For example, if a company has delivered goods or offered a service but hasn’t billed the customer, it would create an adjusting journal entry for the revenue it has earned but not yet recorded.

Who is responsible for making adjusting journal entries?

Generally, a company’s accountant or finance team is responsible for making adjusting journal entries.

Can adjusting journal entries impact the financial statements?

Yes, adjusting journal entries can have a significant impact on a company’s financial statements. It affects the balance of assets, liabilities, equity, income, and expense accounts, which is then reflected in the balance sheet and income statement.

What happens if adjusting journal entries are not made?

If adjusting journal entries are not made, a company’s financial statements may not accurately reflect the company’s financial performance and position. It could lead to misstated revenue, expenses, assets, or liabilities.

What is the difference between an adjusting journal entry and a normal journal entry?

Normal journal entries record business transactions as they occur throughout the accounting period, while adjusting journal entries record revenues and expenses that have accrued, but are not yet recorded at the end of the accounting period.

Related Finance Terms

  • Accruals: These are revenues earned or expenses incurred which are not yet recorded.
  • Deferrals: These are payments of cash which are to be listed on a later date.
  • Depreciation: This accounts for the wear and tear on fixed assets such as equipment or buildings.
  • Prepaid Expenses: These are expenses paid in advance and its value is consumed over time.
  • Accrued Revenues: These are revenues that have been earned but have not yet been received in cash or recorded.

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