al information, as GAAP comprises a broad set of principles that have been developed by the accounting profession and the Securities and Exchange Commission”(www.cliffsnotes.com). Epstein, Nach and Bragg (2008) go to great lengths to clarify the principles GAAP stands for and “suggest procedures that could serve as a general model for approaching research on accounting issues, including authoritative literature (ibid, pp 20-21).
A total of twelve principles are accepted as universally applicable, and are explained in detail in CliffsNotes’ article (www.cliffsnotes.com). These twelve principles are Economic entity assumption. Monetary unit assumption. Full disclosure principle. Time period assumption. Accrual basis accounting. Revenue recognition principle. Matching principle. Cost principle. Going concern principle. Relevance, reliability, and consistency. Principle of conservatism and Materiality principle. In an article of Jun 17, 2009 titled: ‘Acceptable Practices Throughout the Accounting Cycle’, Miller breaks up the twelve into three sub-groups of four, with Economic entity, Monetary unit, Time period and Going concern termed ‘Assumptions’. Cost, Full disclosure, Revenue recognition and Matching called ‘Principles’ and the remaining termed ‘Constraints’(gaap-standard-accounting-practices.suite101.com).
Cutting across these groupings, Miller believes that GAAP assists in ensuring that financial statements are: Relevant, Reliable, Consistent and Comparable (ibid). These four terms are best explained by Bradford in her article on the same site, dated Aug 6, 2007 (gaap-standard-accounting-practices.suite101.com).
Comparability is one of the most important GAAP categories. This way, a company’s financial statements/documentation can be compared to those of similar businesses. This factor is of great interest to the investing public (ibid).