All good bookkeepers take off frequent trial balances, and many hours are sometimes occupied in the search for small errors in posting, adding, or balancing. When this trial balance is completed, what does it prove? There has always been an impression, denied in words but admitted in practice, that it proves the books to be correct. It goes without saying that such proof cannot be so easily secured. It is, in fact, only obtained by means of a complete audit, and, very often, a still further examination and analysis is required.
The proof afforded by a trial balance is merely negative. If the debits do not equal the credits, it is proof that one or more errors exist. Their equality may be said to prove nothing, for there could be errors without number and, provided the total of the errors on each side were equal, the books would still "be "in balance." It may therefore be said that the usual form of trial balance conveys comparatively little information; it shows a series of balances or results, but considerable further examination and information are required before the true meaning of these results can be obtained.