Errors of Recording in Incorrect Subsidiary Books

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There are times when mistakes are made while recording a transaction in an incorrect subsidiary book. Instead of recording it in a purchases book, the purchases of goods can wrongly be recorded in its sales book. Even the sale of goods can wrongly be recorded in a company’s books of purchases instead of being recorded in its sales book. Transaction of bills receivable can be wrongly passed in the books of bills payable.

Such errors involve two subsidiary books. While one subsidiary book is where a wrong posting has been done, the other is where no entry has been made. Here, subsidiary books may even have personal accounts in case if it’s correct entry has not been posted in the personal account. For example, consider the following mistaken entries with their rectifications-

  • Products which were soldtoX for $3500 was mistakenly passed through the purchases book.
  • Products which were sold toX for $3500 was mistakenly passed through the books of purchases but is now posted correctly in the subsidiary book at the debit side of X’s account.

Explaining the errors of recording in an incorrect subsidiary book

Any error in a subsidiary book denotes an error in the personal accounts of the responsible parties. For example, B purchases certain goods from D. However, this is not yet recorded in the purchases book. This means that this entry has not yet been credited to the account of D also. If this transaction gets recorded in the sales book, it even means that D’s account should have been debited through the books of sales.

For rectifying this mistake, the purchase account should be debited as it was not debited earlier. Even the sales account needs to be debited for neutralizing the effect of it being credited unnecessarily in the wrong way. Thus, instead of being credited through books of purchases, D’s account is credited through books of sale. Due to this, it is necessary that D’s account gets credited now with double the amount.

In some cases, it is however mentioned that though the party’s account has been posted correctly, an error has been committed in the subsidiary book. In such situations, only those rectifications related to the subsidiary books should be passed and no rectifications should be made in the party’s account.

For example, goods which were purchased from Chris for $500 was passed through the books of sales but his personal account got credited correctly. Since there is no mistake in Chris’ account, no rectification will be made here. Only the purchases account needs to have a rectification entry passed with a debit since it was not debited earlier by mistake. Even the sales account needs to be debited as it was incorrectly credited earlier. With no more accounts to be credited, a suspense account needs to be credited in the rectification entry.

There are times when a transaction is completely omitted from being recorded in a subsidiary book with a debit balance. Instead, it gets recorded in another subsidiary book which carries the same debit balance. In such a case, it is supposed that the account of the party involved has been correctly passed.

For example, goods which were returned to Martin for $600 got passed through books of sales. Instead of being debited through books of purchases, Martin’s account gets debited through sales book. In such a case, Martin’s account will neither be credited nor debited while passing a rectification entry. To rectify this mistake, the purchases return account needs to be credited as it was not credited earlier. Even the sales account needs to be debited as it was mistakenly credited earlier.

Suspense Account


During maintenance of the books of accounting, certain errors related to calculation, principles or omission are expected to be committed by an accountant. During some errors, the debit and credit side of trial balance fail to tally with each other.

Final accounts are presented on the closing day of an accounting period and thus, an accountant cannot afford to wait for long for discovering his mistakes, resulting in a delay in preparation of these final accounts. Thus, it is always advised to be prepared with some temporary measures which can easily be adopted for overcoming such a problem. This difference in trial balance is transferred to a ‘suspense account’ which acts as an imaginary account of having a temporary solution to this problem.

Later on, these errors in the transactions can be located and treated through corresponding rectification entries. Once all errors are mended, the suspense account gets closed automatically.

In case if accounting errors get detected after the closing of ledger accounts, then the trial balance gets prepared. That which fails to tally is transferred to this suspense account and necessary rectifications can be made through the suspense account.

Treating the Suspense Account Balance

The accountant prepares a trial balance after he has made the trial balance. Once the trial balance is made, thorough checking is conducted in the books of accountancy. If mistakes are detected, it is the job of the accountant to rectify it with corresponding journal entries. Only when the debit and credit side of a trial balance fails to match, does he transfer the difference to suspense account. Once these mistakes are rectified in the suspense account, it is left with no balance and the account is closed.

The Suspense Account will keep on showing balance till all accounting errors get rectified. If the total of the credit side exceeds that of the debit side, it is known as ‘Credit balance’. This is shown in the liabilities side of the Balance Sheet. Similarly, if the total of the debit side exceeds that of the credit side, it is termed as ‘Debit balance’.


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