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Grade: Senior
Subject: other

#615. Accounting - Debits and Credits

other, level: Senior
Posted Fri Sep 4 10:02:26 PDT 1998 by Gayle VanderZee (
South Christian High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Materials Required: Overhead projector or black board
Activity Time: 20 minutes
Concepts Taught: Demonstrating Debits and Credits

Show the accounting equation as:

Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity

Add a "t-account" underneath:

Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity

Label the left side of the t as "debit" and the right side of the t as "credit"

Then tell them that debit just means left and credit just means right. If you are telling somebody to debit something, you want them to write it on the left side. If you tell them to credit something, you want them to write it on the right side. Point out that both "credit" and "right" have an "r" in them and that's how to remember it. (Debit and left don't!)

You can refer back to this same illustration when you start teaching normal account balances. The assets are on the left or debit side of the equation, so they have debit balances. Liabilities and Owner's Equity are on the right or credit side of the equation, so they have credit balances. And then you can go on and explain that the balance side is also the increase side and you've covered it all! You might also want to show them the standard abbreviations for debit (dr.) and credit (cr.) and point out that as far as you know, this is the only wild and crazy thing about accounting - that debit is abbreviated the same way as doctor!

Then there's the ancient accounting joke (warning, it's a real groaner): There was an accountant that worked in the same office for 50 years. Every day, the man came to work and did the same thing. He would sit down at his desk, unlock it, open the top left drawer and look inside and close it. Then he would open the top right drawer and look inside and close it. Once that routine was complete, he would again lock his desk and work all day. When he finally retired, his office mates rushed to his desk to see what was in those two top drawers. In the left one was a sign that said "DEBIT" and in the right one was a sign that said "CREDIT."