4.1. Basic Concepts

A transaction in a double entry accounting system such as GnuCash is an exchange between at least 2 accounts. Thus, a single transaction must always consist of at least two parts, a from and a to account. The from account is transferring value to the to account. Accountants call these parts of a transaction Ledger Entries. In GnuCash, they are called Splits.

A split identifies the account to which it refers, the amount of money specifically moved to or from that account, and can contain a few other specific pieces of information if needed. GnuCash supports multiple splits in a single transaction, and the splits can move money into or out of the involved accounts arbitrarily.

For example, you receive a paycheck and deposit it into your savings account at the bank. The transaction that occurs is that your bank savings account (an asset) received money from your income account. Two accounts are affected, and in this case there is a net increase in your equity.

Working with transactions in GnuCash is performed using what is known as the account register. Every account you create has an account register. It will appear familiar to you as it looks very similar to the log used to track checkbooks.

The account register is explained in the upcoming section, Section 4.2, “The Account Register”.