A simple bookkeeping spreadsheet in Google Drive

I developed a simple Google Drive template that will allow you to keep a set of books for a simple business.  This will work for a simple business that has a few similar transactions a month.  You can access the template here:


This is a view-only file in Google Drive. It cannot be edited. To make an editable copy, click on the above link. If you’re not already logged into your Google account, then do so. In the open spreadsheet, click on File and then click on Make a Copy. An editable copy of the file should then appear on your screen, and has been saved to your Google Drive.

The following video shows you how to use the template:

Here is the same template in Microsoft Excel format: https://accountinator.com/2012/07/25/simple-accounting-spreadsheet-excel/

Check out my new e-course, Accounting for Startup Businesses. It includes training using open-source accounting software. First two lessons are free.

Both spreadsheets updated on April 21, 2013.

96 thoughts on “A simple bookkeeping spreadsheet in Google Drive

      • Aloha Mark,
        I am having a problem with my spreadsheet. For some reason the self tallying “balance D” column is not self tallying. When I enter a new expense and then enter it on the other side, instead of the balance being reflective it stays the same, and the oops appears, but it is not automatically changing the balance to reflect the new entry. Can you help explain how to get that fixed? Thank you! I love this spreadsheet though.

        • Kris, there used to a similar problem in Excel that was caused by the method that Excel uses to round numbers. I’m not aware that Google Sheets has the problem. That said, I can’t figure out what the problem is without seeing the actual spreadsheet. If you still need help, please make a copy of the doc and share that copy with my e-mail at mark@accountinator.com. Before sending it PLEASE disguise all personal information.

  1. Thank you for making this. I am starting a business this year and this has been really helpful

  2. Is this template viewable only? do i have to set up my own excel from this sample? I can not fill in any info of my own..

  3. I’m re-purposing your simple spreadsheet to work for a small non-profit. I’ve changed the account columns to more closely reflect the business model but now I’m stumbling over the error-checking logic for the ‘Oops’ message.

    There is one version of that formula for the top left cell and then a variation for all the rest. The formula you used seems to reflect that the first four ‘account’ columns are Sales, Returns & Allowances, COG and ‘Other’ with the rest of the columns summed as expenses.

    Can you help me with the logic in the formula to calculate equivalences in column A and that shows the out of balance entries?

        • I’ve gotten many requests for it. It’s tricky because there are many different kinds of nonprofits, and the information requirements for nonprofits are much higher – an all-purpose spreadsheet for non-profits could not possibly be this simple (understatement). – Mark

  4. I like your mom’s comment and I like your free spreadsheet for Google Docs. I’m sure there are many who can use it. I, too, have a bookkeeping spreadsheet I’ve been selling for many years. It has been tweaked to perfection. It is a step up from your free bookkeeping spreadsheet and works great for the do-it-yourself types. I would be glad to show you a remote demonstration of how it works.

  5. Excellent and just what I needed for a small company based in South Africa … Believe it or not, you have gone global. Thanks!!!!

  6. Mark
    Would love to use your template within google docs but when I click the link it takes me to your spreadsheet but it is in Read only view. Do I need to do something to get it to work????
    Warm regards

  7. This appears to have quit working in google docs as of today. I son;t think I did anything too it, but it now does not show ok/oops even when I know it should be one or the other. Also it sits on ‘saving’ indefinitiely.

  8. Thanks so much! One thing I’m confused about:
    On the reports page, why are items a27:a32 summed up as INCOME instead of expense deductions? I can manually make them deductions myself in the formula, but I didn’t want to do that if there is some details I am missed for when I file my business taxes. Thanks,

  9. Thanks for the spread sheet. I have a simple craft show business. I have been ‘fee-d’ by intuit one to many times. I have determined that I am eliminating Quick Books from my life and business. It is an over kill for what I do and need.

    • Deb, this’ll work if you have 100 transactions a year, or less. It’s not difficult to upgrade it to handle more transactions. However, if you have more transactions, you might want to try gnucash. It’s not as pretty as quickbooks, but it’s free and it won’t load up your desktop with extras.

  10. Hi Mark!

    Thank you for your very helpful website! I have been using it to do the books for my small green cleaning business.I specifically have been using your Accountinator Beta spreadsheet, and I love it but I have reached the 360 transaction maximum. I have figured out how to fix the totals bars to show the correct total but I can’t figure out how to make the “ok” “oops” bar to correctly work past the 360 slot. Would you mind letting me know how to fix that? An reply via email would be very helpful.


  11. Thank you. I am very solid with math and have no training at all in accounting. I needed exactly this.

    I am using this as the first step in accounting for a very small non profit. We shouldn’t need the full 990 for a few years, but will send in the 990-N. A local accountant recommended a spreadsheet until we get bigger.

    I saw in a previous comment that another user (Peter Wendell) was using this for a non profit. Did you change things significantly for him and can you share what you did? If it seems appropriate, you could email Peter with my email and ask if he is willing to share what he has done.

    Really appreciative of you posting what you have. Thanks again.

  12. This is exactly what I was looking for. It could not get any simpler. Working on starting a Courier service this year and I had no idea how I was going to keep proper records. Thank you for doing this.

  13. Hello Mark!
    I love your tool.

    My sales represent several different revenue streams that I’d love to keep separate for purposes of tracking over time. Do you think that would be possible using the spreadsheet? If not, that’s okay too. I just wanted to ask.

  14. Dear Mark, Thanks for the great spreadsheet again. I am using the google docs version and I am getting an error “Oops” message in cell A2 but no where else. I am used to seeing that alongside another one indication where I made the mistake but this only showing up in that one cell. I am almost sure that I did everything correctly. Please advise. Thanks in advance….Kirt

  15. excellent submit, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of
    this sector don’t understand this. You must continue your
    writing. I am sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  16. This spreadsheet is so simple yet incredibly helpful. Thank you for sharing. I do have some questions (and proposed solutions which I’ll need help to affirm or correct):

    1) If I purchase inventory for but is not sold immediately, how do I enter this into the books? I’m thinking it would just be as COGS and a negative number.

    2) If at the end of the year there are items in inventory not sold and not written off, how would I show it in the reports so that its not expensed and net profit would look better and be more accurate? Thinking I’ll do a physical stock take, compute the value based on purchased price and add back to reports as a positive number?

    3) How do I enter inventory purchases if it is based on a 30 day term? Does it make sense to insert a column called “credit” say in column E and update the formula in column A to be: =if(D4+E4)=F4-G4-H4+I4-sum(J4:AF4),”OK”,”Oops”)? And when the term is paid off, it would be entered as a negative number under cash and positive number under ‘credit’. Correct?

    4) How about If sales are sold with a 30 day term? I’m thinking, we’ll insert a column (F) and call it “receivables” and enter the amount here instead of “cash”. When paid, we enter the amount in cash and deduct it deduct it from ‘receivables’. The formula in column A will now be: =if(D4+E4+F4)=G4-H4-I4+J4-sum(K4:AE4),”OK”,”Oops”). Makes sense?

    5) How do I enter funds raised from an owner or investor into the books? I’m thinking I could add a column (not sure what to call it, “equity” perhaps?). The totals for ‘equity’, however, will not be factored in when summing up the net profit.

    • They spreadsheet is not set up to handle regular inventory or receivables – you probably need full-blown accounting software. If you want to save money, you can try GnuCash. However, GnuCash is not well set up to handle inventory either – you will probably need to buy a commercial package.

      The program could be rigged to handle occasional inventory and receivables transactions, by adding columns for these amounts. However, if you have any more than a few of these transactions a year, you’re asking for trouble.

      Sorry I can’t help you more.

  17. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to
    say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  18. Just started my first business, which won’t make more than 100 transactions in the first year or so and this will save me a lot of headache. Thank you for making it available.

  19. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on
    just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  20. Thank you for making this! Very easy, clear and useful, unlike most of the crap I found looking for something like this 😉

  21. Hi Mark,

    This is a great tool. I was wondering if you had thoughts on categorizing the following two expenditures: (1) shipping, and (2) PayPal fees. I downloaded and reviewed the IRS Instructions for Schedule C but I didn’t see these two expenditures addressed in that document.

    Thanks a million!


    • Oscar – sorry for the late reply. You can pretty much list it as any expense. I would list both as “office expense.”

  22. Hi, I’m looking at this spreadsheet as a way of doing our accounting for a nonprofit that has an application pending for 501(c)(3) status. We’ve modified it by renaming “Sales” to “Contributions” and deleting a few columns we don’t need.

    The problem I’ve run into is that, in entering our 2013 transactions from our previous spreadsheets for “Sent” and “Received” money, I’m finding that a contribution of $99.99 causes an Oops error. If it’s listed at $99.98, it’s fine. If it’s $100.00, it’s fine. If it’s split into two contributions that add up to $99.99, the Oops appears. Is this a bug? Or could we have introduced one by deleting columns.

    I’m about to test the Excel version. Thanks!

  23. Woohoo! Thank you Mark. I should have treated my previous contracting job as a small business but I didn’t. I won’t make that mistake again.

    Are there any other tips you can share for a very small, for now, home business?

  24. hi i am sooooooo bad at doing my accounts and dont know where to start i have been here all day trying to see if there are downloadable sheets to help with formulars on excel.
    i stumbled across google drive … is this like cloud on but googles version.

    super stuck everytime i download something on the internet i cant then open it in my normal excel /…

    please help a blonde in need 🙁

    • If you have the software, I suggest you use the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, rather than Google sheets. If you use Google sheets, copy the file into your own Google drive, and then change the name.

  25. Thank you so much for this easy to use spreadsheet. Pardon my accounting ignorance. I just filled in the blanks for my own spreadsheet and I am confused as to why taxes, travel and other expenses are a positive contribution to net income?

  26. One more question. Sales for something with tax calculated in. Cash goes into column “D”. Actual sales figure into “E”. Sales tax into ‘”Z” right? Why am I ending up with a “Ooops” ?

  27. Thanks, it was really helpful in creating a spread sheet for a small business that my brother just started. Great Stuff…

  28. i love this. can u help me with an excel format for preparing account for an oil and gas; starting from the source document to final account.

  29. Hi Mark-
    So grateful for your sheet! This thing is terrific – I got fed up with all of the bells and whistles in quickbooks and am glad to have this much simpler approach. I was able to successfully expand the number of rows and everything worked like a charm…to a point. At some point (not sure when) the “OK/OOPS” cell at the top stopped working. Each other row’s “OK/OOPS” cell works, and the totals at the top reflect the changes accurately. The issue is only with the A2 cell. Have you encountered this before? Any help is much appreciated.
    Many thanks!

  30. With the help of a friend I think I solved a problem I was encountering. The A2 field kept saying “oops” while the rest of the A column was “OK”. We double-checked the math elsewhere and couldn’t find the problem. We exported the sheet to excel and evaluated the problem. Somewhere along the way a number with more than two decimal places was the result of some equation…and odd result as all of the entered data was in whole 2 decimal amounts and none of the calculations would logically result in more decimals (only addition and subtraction, no multiplication or division.)

    To resolve this we added 2 round commands in the A2 field. Changing the entry in A2 as follows:


    Perhaps I’m doing something wrong elsewhere? Regardless this fixed the problem.

    Can’t thank you enough for your great website! Incredibly helpful, time and money saving!
    All the best.

  31. Thank you for this spreadsheet! We have a brand-new non-profit and we can’t afford to purchase software, so this is just what we were looking for. I did try entering a few transactions, but get an error message for the expenses. I have double checked my numbers and cannot figure out what is wrong. Would you be able to take a quick look?
    Thanks again!

    • There is a new version of the spreadsheet now available. It might solve your problem.

  32. Thank you for sharing, this is going to make my life so much easier come tax time! I just had two questions regarding entering expenses that are not 100% deductible.

    1) Deductible Meals & Entertainment. Should these values be entered at 100% and then be divided by 2 later when filling out my Schedule C, or should they be entered as 50% in the spreadsheet?

    2) Indirect expenses related to my home office. Again, should these values be entered at 100% and then worked out later on Schedule C, or should I enter them as the percentage floor space occupied by my office in the spreadsheet (eg. 10% of electric bills for an office that occupies 10% of the home’s square footage).

    • Only enter whatever you pay directly for right now. Then make the manual adjustments later.

  33. Hi Mark:

    Thank you for the Spreadsheet. Please advise how I can email it to my associate. It doesn’t seen to want to open in Excel when I attach it in an email. Also I have oops several times – don’t know why.

    Thanks, Linda

  34. Question about mileage. If i purchase gas for a vehicle but can only deduct mileage the cost of the gas still goes into the expense line to keep it balanced correct?

    • The easiest approach is to pay for gas out of pocket, rather than from your business. If you choose to pay for the gas out of the business cash account, then at the end of the year, you should remove the gas expense out of your income statement, and replace it with the cost of mileage.

  35. There is definately a great deal to know about
    this subject. I like all the points you have made.

  36. Working good so far a little bug only. A2 box (under ‘In Balance?’) shows Oops in red whereas all the rows are showing OK. Please help if you could…

  37. This excel appears to be more about expenses than anything else; however, I am also wanting to track capital accounts (deposits and withdraws). Can this be done with your spreadsheet?

    • This spreadsheet is not good for keeping track of capital accounts in a partnership. It is designed for a sole proprietorship.

    • The spreadsheet is not sophisticated enough to handled capital accounts. It is designed for a sole proprietorship with just one owner, and with very few balance sheet accounts besides cash. You could add columns for each capital accounts, but that would throw off some of the check figures.

  38. Hi,
    I would like to post a link to your spreadsheet on my blog, but I would like to ask permission first. Of course it’ll be credited to you.

    Thank you
    Brandon Snider EA

  39. We have wanted to find a simple and easy spreadsheet to keep track of expenses and this is an awesome start for a super small non-profit motorcycle riding ministry. I have a question…can I delete some columns that I do not need?

    • Deleting certain columns will create errors in the spreadsheet. It’s a better idea to hide the columns you don’t need. Select the column you want to hide by clicking on the column header. Then right-click the header and select hide.

  40. Hi. I’m having a minor visual issue. Row 2 is being covered up by the coloring of row 1. I cant see the total for each category along row 1. It may be a simple fix but I am not very technologically inclined. Hope you can help! its a very very effective worksheet!!!!

  41. Mark,
    This is a brilliant resource, Mark.

    Slightly, off the topic, but I wonder why new entrepreneurs and small business owners still work with excel/google spreadsheets, given the numerous benefits offered by accounting software over excel.

    Any thoughts on this?

    I wrote this blog for ecommerce owners on why excel is not healthy for their online stores: http://blog.pipemonk.com/excel-vs-accounting-software-for-your-ecommerce-store

    Would be great if you could go through it and share your views. 🙂

    • Bharti,
      Thanks for the comment.
      Excel works fine for a very very small business – less than, say, 50 transactions a year where the owner is doing the bookkeeping. I get many requests to customize the spreadsheet for larger more complex businesses. Unfortunately, Excel is not the best package for this. But people will try!

  42. Hi Mark, thank’s a lot for the template and the tutorial. It’s so easy, organized, and pretty. It helps me big time as I’m starting up a small business, yet I have no idea about accounting and bookkeeping. I’ll keep on learning about this stuff and keeping my business organized.Thank you very much 😀

  43. Great stuff here. Thank you for your efforts.

    A quick question. Let’s say you, or one of us here that are using it, notice an error. Or let’s say you make improvements to the spreadsheet. You’ll obviously make a new version and update it. But how would we, the users, update our version?

    Thanks again.

    • In the interest of keeping it simple, I rarely make updates. In the past, updates were only made to correct problems, not to add features. Check back periodically and see if there is a new version.

  44. Great and simple spreadsheet. Thank you. I have found an error though:

    If a single Sales amount exceeds 2,739.00, OR combined Sales exceed 2,739.00, an “Oops” error is caused in box A2 (but there is no error in any other boxes).

    Thank you for your efforts. It has been very helpful otherwise.

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