Accountancy is the process of communicating financial information about a business entity to users such as shareholders and managers. The communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

 is generally in the form of financial statements
Financial statements
A financial statement is a formal record of the financial activities of a business, person, or other entity. In British English—including United Kingdom company law—a financial statement is often referred to as an account, although the term financial statement is also used, particularly by...

 that show in money terms the economic resources
Factors of production
In economics, factors of production means inputs and finished goods means output. Input determines the quantity of output i.e. output depends upon input. Input is the starting point and output is the end point of production process and such input-output relationship is called a production function...

 under the control of management; the art lies in selecting the information that is relevant to the user and is reliable. The principle
A principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed...

s of accountancy are applied to business entities in three divisions of practical art, named accounting, bookkeeping
Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions. Transactions include sales, purchases, income, receipts and payments by an individual or organization. Bookkeeping is usually performed by a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping should not be confused with accounting. The accounting process is usually...

, and auditing.

Accountancy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as "the profession or duties of an accountant".

Accounting is defined by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Founded in 1887, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the national professional organization of Certified Public Accountants in the United States, with more than 370,000 CPA members in 128 countries in business and industry, public practice, government, education, student...

 (AICPA) as "the art of recording, classifying, and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are, in part at least, of financial character, and interpreting the results thereof."

Accounting is thousands of years old; the earliest accounting records, which date back more than 7,000 years, were found in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

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