Accounting Standards vs Accounting Principles

Accounting Standards and Accounting Principles are two fundamental components that shape the world of financial reporting. While often used interchangeably, they serve distinct purposes in guiding the preparation and presentation of financial information.

Accounting standards are specific rules and guidelines issued by standard-setting bodies, while accounting principles represent the underlying concepts and assumptions that form the basis for financial accounting.

Understanding the difference between these two concepts is essential for comprehending how financial reporting practices are structured and how they ensure consistency, transparency, and reliability in the presentation of financial statements.

What are Accounting Standards?

Accounting standards are a set of rules and guidelines that govern how financial transactions and events are recorded, measured, and presented in financial statements. They are established by recognized standard-setting bodies to ensure consistency, transparency, and comparability in financial reporting across different entities and industries.

These standards provide specific instructions on how to account for various transactions, ensuring that companies follow uniform practices when preparing their financial statements. By adhering to accounting standards, companies can produce reliable and standardized financial information, which is crucial for building trust among stakeholders, making informed decisions, and facilitating efficient financial analysis and comparisons.

What are Accounting Principles?

Accounting principles are fundamental concepts and assumptions that underpin the practice of financial accounting. They guide how financial transactions and events are recorded, measured, and reported in the financial statements. These principles serve as the foundation for accounting practices, ensuring consistency and reliability in financial reporting.

Unlike specific rules in accounting standards, accounting principles provide broad guidelines that align with the objectives of relevance, reliability, and transparency. They play a vital role in maintaining the credibility of financial information, facilitating informed analysis, and supporting effective financial management for companies and other organizations.

Accounting Standards vs Accounting Principles: What are the differences?

Accounting standards and accounting principles are similar sounding but are completely different. The differences between these two come from the following points.


  • Accounting Standards: Specific rules and guidelines issued by standard-setting bodies.   
  • Accounting Principles: Fundamental concepts and assumptions underlying financial accounting.

Detail Level

  • Accounting Standards: Provide detailed instructions on how to account for specific transactions and events.
  • Accounting Principles: Offer broad guidelines that guide the overall preparation and presentation of financial information.


  • Accounting Standards: Focus on specific accounting treatments for various transactions and events.   
  • Accounting Principles: Address broader concepts that guide the entire financial reporting process.


  • Accounting Standards: Mandatory and legally enforceable by regulatory authorities.
  • Accounting Principles: Not enforceable by law but considered best practices in financial reporting.

Standard-Setting Bodies

  • Accounting Standards: Issued by recognized standard-setting bodies like FASB, IASB, etc.
  • Accounting Principles: Developed based on generally accepted accounting practices and concepts.


  • Accounting Standards: Applied in the preparation of financial statements to ensure compliance with specific rules.   
  • Accounting Principles: Form the basis for applying accounting methods and policies consistently.


  • Accounting Standards: Provide clear and specific instructions on how to recognize, measure, and report various transactions.
  • Accounting Principles: Offer more general concepts that require interpretation and judgment in their application.

Consistency vs Flexibility

  • Accounting Standards: Promote consistency and uniformity in financial reporting across entities and industries.
  • Accounting Principles: Allow flexibility in applying accounting methods to suit the unique circumstances of each entity.


  • Accounting Standards: Regularly updated and revised by standard-setting bodies to reflect changing accounting practices.
  • Accounting Principles: Generally stable and do not change frequently, providing a stable foundation for financial reporting.


  • Accounting Standards: Aim to ensure consistency, comparability, and reliability in financial reporting.
  • Accounting Principles: Guided by the objectives of relevance, reliability, and transparency in financial information.


Accounting Standards and Accounting Principles are complementary yet distinct elements that work together to establish a robust framework for financial reporting. Accounting Standards provide detailed rules and guidelines for recording transactions and events, ensuring uniformity and comparability in financial statements.

On the other hand, accounting principles serve as the foundational concepts that guide the preparation of financial information and align with the objectives of consistency, relevance, and transparency.

By harmonizing accounting standards and accounting principles, companies can achieve accurate, reliable, and user-oriented financial reporting, fostering trust among stakeholders and supporting informed decision-making in the global financial landscape.

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