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Differences between Real Accounts and Nominal Accounts

Differences between Real Accounts and Nominal Accounts

Understanding the differences between real and nominal accounts can be an important part of managing finances in a business or individual setting. In accounting, there are two main types of accounts- real and nominal. Real Accounts represent tangible items such as cash, inventory, prepaid expenses, or buildings; while Nominal Accounts represent losses or gains from transactions like salaries, services received, taxes paid, or sales revenue. Understanding how exactly these accounts differ is vital to accurate financial management and reporting. Read on to learn more about the subtle yet critical distinctions between real and nominal accounts!

What are Real Accounts?

  • Real Accounts are the financial accounts that a company uses to track the funds it accrues from the sale of goods and services, as well as any funds invested in the company.
  • Real Accounts store the amounts of these transactions and should be kept separate from those related to personal or other business accounts. Real Accounts also include ownership equity, which is used to calculate important ratios and forecast overall financial performance.
  • Real Accounts can provide insight into how a business is doing financially, allowing stakeholders and managers to anticipate future needs and investments in order to keep the company strong domestically or even expand overseas.

What are Nominal Accounts?

Nominal Accounts are the accounts that a company uses to record its expenses and revenues. Nominal Accounts include sales, purchases, general expenses, depreciation, loans, and interest payments. Nominal Accounts are used to track financial activity related to the operations of a business and are recorded in General Ledger. They provide companies with insight into cash flow movements and help them better understand their finances. Nominal Accounts prove particularly useful for budgeting, tax planning, and aiding in decision-making processes.

Differences between Real Accounts and Nominal Accounts

Real Accounts and Nominal Accounts are two distinct accounting classifications in financial bookkeeping.

  • Real accounts include any type of tangible assets, such as land, buildings, inventory, or investments. Nominal accounts cover non-tangible aspects of the business, like salaries, advertising, or expenses.
  • The purpose of Real Accounts is to record increases or decreases in items with physical presence over time; they’re only impacted by transactions involving an exchange of cash, goods, or services.
  • On the other hand, Nominal Accounts keep track of monetary transactions over a certain period and reflect the day-to-day operations of a company.
  • Real Accounts are typically reported in balance sheets while Nominal Accounts appear on income statements, giving investors valuable insight into how cash flows through a business.

Knowing how to distinguish between Real Accounts and Nominal Accounts is key for accurately tracking and reporting business finances.


In the business world, there are two types of accounts- real and nominal. Understanding the difference between these two is key to financial success. Real accounts represent actual cash inflows and outflows, while nominal accounts only reflect changes in balances without regard to the underlying cash flow. For example, if you purchase inventory for your business with a credit card, the account will show a decrease in assets (the inventory purchased) and an increase in liabilities (the credit card debt). However, this does not mean that your business actually has more debt- it just means that the accounting books have been updated to reflect the new reality.

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