I first started working as a bookkeeper in my late teens, doing handwritten books in leather-bound journals down by the docks in my hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland. Later, I emigrated to Australia, where I got a job working as a bookkeeper in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. There I worked with first-generation accounting software, substituting the peace of those inky journals for a battle of wills (myself versus the computer) that required a bizarre mixture of programming skills and native cunning.

By my late twenties, I had a small business of my own, employing four staff and offering bookkeeping services to local businesses. I finished a degree in accounting (which contributed surprisingly little to my bookkeeping expertise), and started writing for magazines and newspapers reviewing accounting software. In the following years, I wrote a fair few For Dummies titles, including MYOB Software For Dummies and QuickBooks For Dummies.

Even with all this experience behind me, I was in a bit of a quandary as to how to structure the project that you have in your hands right now — Bookkeeping For Dummies. I started looking around at other books about bookkeeping, and found that these books fell into two camps. The first camp took a traditional approach, explaining debits and credits, general ledger postings, and so on, all with the assumption that you’re doing books by hand. The second camp were accounting software how-to guides, such as the books I’d written about ...

Get Bookkeeping for Dummies, 3rd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.