Accounts: Their Construction and Interpretation for Business Men and Students of Affairs

By William Morse Cole | Go to book overview

APPENDIX D
LOOSE-LEAF SYSTEMS

THE most recent improvement in bookkeeping methods, the so-called loose-leaf systems, has been very much advertised and widely adopted. In one sense there is very little to say about it on either side. It is not a new method of making entries, but simply a device by which sheets may be inserted or removed, somewhat as cards are treated in a library cardcatalogue, and then locked into place so that no one without the key or combination can remove or insert any.

The great advantages are, of course, first, the removal of dead matter, so that no blank or closed pages need to be turned, and, second, bills may be made in duplicate and a copy inserted to save writing. There practically the advantage stops. The only objection to the system, on the other hand, is the rather obvious one that so far as substitution of new sheets for old ones is possible the books have lost much value as evidence in case of dispute. The possibility of substitution, however, is not so great as at first thought might appear. It has been noted in the discussions of Part I that commonly an item is included in totals which are carried from book to book, ending usually in the ledger, and the ledger total or balance is likely to be included in the trial balance or balance sheet. The substitution of a new incorrect page for an old correct page--that is to say, forgery,--would be likely to suffer exposure as a result of anyeffort to trace it through the books; for the falsified figures would probably be included in many totals or give rise to many balances on many different pages. Only a substitution of new pages for all those affected by the change would prevent the discovery of the forgery; for each of these changes would probably involve new ones and so the process would go on in a practically never-ending chain,--except for matters of very recent occurrence. Practically rewriting the whole set of books would be necessary to make successful the forgery of a matter several months old. Yet, of course, sometimes that would be quite as well worth while as any forgery is worth while. When it comes to that, however, any set of bound books may be replaced by a new set. The possibility of detection in that case

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