What Is a Post-Closing Trial Balance?

A post-closing trial balance is a listing of general ledger account balances after the closing entries for an accounting period have been entered, according to Accounting Coach. This listing includes only balance sheet accounts. Income accounts are not listed because they are closed for that accounting period.

The first step in calculating a post-closing trial balance is to create a spreadsheet column entitled "titles of accounts," which lists all of the accounts from the general ledger, explains Accounting Coach. Two other columns are then created, one with the heading of "debits" and the other "credits." Each account balance is listed in the appropriate column, either as a debit or a credit account. The debit and credit account columns are then totaled. If they match, the post-closing trial balance is correct. If they do not match, a miscalculation has occurred.

The purpose of the post-closing trial balance is to ensure the debit and credit accounts on the balance sheet balance, notes Accounting Coach. Common miscalculations that cause an imbalance include mathematical errors, such as when calculating an account's balance, or an amount written incorrectly in one of the columns of the trial balance sheet. In the days before accounting software, the post-closing trial balance was a critical step because it revealed if any miscalculations were made. With the advent of accounting software, these types of errors have been eliminated, reducing the importance of the post-closing balance step in the accounting process.