The Traditional (Absorption Costing) Income Statement

The traditional income statement uses absorption costing to create the income statement. This income statement looks at costs by dividing costs into product and period costs. In order to complete this statement correctly, make sure you understand product and period costs.

The format for the traditional income statement is:


Let’s use the example from the absorption and variable costing post to create this income statement.


When doing an income statement, the first thing I always do is calculate the cost per unit. Under absorption costing, the cost per unit is direct materials, direct labor, variable overhead, and fixed overhead. In this case, fixed overhead per unit is calculated by dividing total fixed overhead by the number of units produced (see absorption costing post for details).


Once you have the cost per unit, the rest of the statement is fairly easy to complete. All variable items are calculated based on the number of units sold. This includes sales, cost of goods sold, and the variable piece of selling and administrative expenses. The matching principle states that we must match revenue with expenses. Therefore, we can only expense the cost of the units that are sold. The units that are not sold end up in inventory.

Start with sales. Take your price per unit and multiply it by the number of units sold.

Sales = Price X Number of units sold

Sales = $100 X 8,000

Sales = $800,000


Using the cost per unit that we calculated previously, we can calculate cost of goods sold by multiplying the cost per unit by the number of units sold.

Cost of goods sold = Cost per unit X Number of units sold

Cost of goods sold = $48.80 X 8,000

Cost of goods sold = $390,400


Calculate gross profit by subtracting cost of goods sold from sales.


Selling and administrative expenses can be variable or fixed. Therefore, you should treat the selling and administrative costs like a mixed cost. In this case, the variable rate is $5 per unit and the fixed cost is $112,000. Write your cost formula and plug in the number of units sold for the activity.

Total selling and administrative expense = $5 X 8,000 + $112,000

Total selling and administrative expense = $40,000 + $112,000

Total selling and administrative expense = $152,000


Last but not least, calculate the operating income by subtracting selling and administrative expenses from gross profit.


Final Thoughts

Having a solid grasp of product and period costs makes this statement a lot easier to do. Calculate unit cost first as that is probably the hardest part of the statement. Once you have the unit cost, the rest of the statement if fairly straight forward.

About the Author Kristin

Kristin is a Certified Public Accountant with 15 years of experience working with small business owners in all aspects of business building. In 2006, she obtained her MS in Accounting and Taxation and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma two months later. Instead of focusing on the fear and anger, she started her accounting and consulting firm. In the last 10 years, she has worked with clients all over the country and now sees her diagnosis as an opportunity that opened doors to a fulfilling life. Kristin is also the creator of Accounting In Focus, a website for students taking accounting courses. Since 2014, she has helped over one million students succeed in their accounting classes.

follow me on: