Background Info

0.1 General Information

I’m Dr. Brian D. Knox at Boise State University, and I made this website. I primarily use this website in upper-division undergraduate cost accounting classes, but it could be feasibly used in introductory or graduate-level classes.

You can reach me at

I assign the entire site a CC BY 4.0 copyright. For more information on that, go here:

All images are mine unless otherwise noted. Images that aren’t mine are from the public domain (as noted in the caption for those images).

I thank James R. Martin, professor emeritus from the University of South Florida. His publicly available managerial accounting site,, helped inspire this website.

0.2 Textbook Philosophy

0.2.1 Clear Narrative Structure

I approach this textbook with an interest in telling students who is doing what in cost accounting and why they are doing it. One of the most impactful books I ever read was a calculus book that used a historical narrative to teach calculus principles. Understanding the questions that drove ancient societies to develop mathematical techniques, for me, made those techniques much more understandable.

This textbook doesn’t hammer students with a lot of cost accounting history, but it does try to mimic that book in the sense that I aim for a clear narrative structure that interconnects the cost accounting topics being discussed. Again, my focus is on who is doing what and why.

My contention is that cost accounting is one of the most internally coherent branches of accounting: the sub-topics all closely relate to one another. Furthermore, cost accounting generally isn’t driven by the whims of a regulatory body with varied political interests, like several other branches of accounting. Cost accounting has been shaped by real information needs in real businesses. This makes cost accounting a series of adaptations in response to those real information needs. Even if every accounting law and regulation were suddenly repealed tomorrow, cost accounting would probably still be done in much the same way it’s done today.

0.2.2 Simple Writing

I don’t believe in traditional textbook-style writing. I remember trying to read through some textbooks as a student. I had to stop and come up for air every few minutes or risk drowning in jargon.

I keep my terminology and phrasing as simple as I can. I generally write in a way that I think would sound natural if read aloud. (Hence, if a part of the textbook isn’t coming through clearly to you, try reading it aloud: that can help). I prioritize internal consistency to help students create a strong construct of cost accounting in their minds. I try to be as brief as I can without shortchanging a topic. There’s only so much I can write before this looks like a manifesto mailed to a news station.

I intentionally omit commas after short introductory phrases (unless omitting the comma would be confusing). Those commas aren’t necessary and lead to a fussier text. I consider less than about five words to be a “short” introductory phrase.

More generally I omit commas anytime I can get away with it. Commas are the worst. Maybe I even omit them when I can’t “get away with it.” I guess that makes me a comma criminal. Send me to jail.

Also, I capriciously split infinitives, maliciously end sentences with prepositions, and jaggedly start sentences with conjunctions. Oh, and I use lots of contractions. In short, grammarians, I’m a terrible human being.

But I do try to correctly use singular verb conjugations for the singular pronouns “each,” “every,” “none,” etc. Maybe there’s some hope for me yet.

0.2.3 Theoretical Foundation

I introduce a simple theoretical model for firm profit early on (in section 1.2, the second subsection of the textbook), and I build on that model throughout. This model does a lot of the heavy lifting in building a cohesive narrative structure. I like to say things like, “This topic in cost accounting arranges this part of the equation for profit in this way.”

I decided to take this theoretical approach because it provides (1) a home base to map out where new topics fit in, (2) a simple expression that should be easily understood by students of various backgrounds, and (3) a platform to demonstrate how cost accounting is different from other branches of accounting (i.e. math is a purer science, and cost accounting is a purer form of accounting).

I consider this approach the best way to add as much educational value to as many students as possible. Most of my students aren’t going to work on cost accounting full-time, but many of them will have a part of their careers that overlaps with cost accounting. I can maximize the amount of cost accounting knowledge they take with them by giving them a firm grasp of cost accounting’s central theoretical foundation, so they can then “bread-crumb” their way back out from that central theoretical foundation to the specific cost accounting techniques required in their careers.

0.3 Technical Information

I intend this website to be lean, responsive, and simple. I try not to include videos or website add-ons that can be clunky to load.

Occasionally, a link becomes outdated. I try to fix it as soon as I realize it’s a dead link.

The textbook works slightly better on a computer or tablet. However, you should still be able to adequately understand the material on a mobile phone.

I don’t collect personal information, and I don’t have any accounts or logins on the site.

I built this site using WordPress, running the High Responsive theme, version 1.5.1, from Catch Themes.