How to save your direct line manager’s time whilst writing the perfect Audit report?

Posted by | November 25, 2019 | Latest Audit Information & News

Report Writing and Editing Mistakes The Internal Auditors Need To Fix

One of the bottlenecks of audit reporting is the editing part of the release process. Frequently, we hear how many auditors write an audit report and then rely heavily on the audit manager to correct their grammar, punctuation, and formatting problems. Your audit manager does not have time to edit your stuff. Of course, managers will continue to review content, but the onus of editing for grammar and punctuation must reside with you.

Self-editing isn’t easy, you say. And you’re right. Words and phrases that sound fine to you might come across as confusing to others. It’s easy to overlook your own grammar errors. But you’ll be a better writer if you become mindful of your writing and correct your own editing mistakes. Below are five common editing mistakes we all make or might have questions about. Maybe a couple will resonate with you i.e. Passive voice, Parallel structure, Tense mix-ups, Use of i.e. versus e.g., Hyphenation faux pas.

Passive Voice
Passive voice is when the action verb is placed before the doer of the action. In other words, we don’t know who completes the action until the end of the sentence. For example, Passive voice: “Energy conservation practices have not been developed by Transportation”. Correct Active voice: “Transportation has not developed energy conservation practices”.

Parallel structure
When you write a list, keep the grammar consistent. In other words, each list item must begin with the same part of speech: a verb (in the same tense), a noun, or an adjective. For example, Correct: Management will send an invoice, recognize the revenue, and record the trade receivable. Sometimes, our lists deviate from proper structure and use the wrong verb tense or a completely different part of speech.
Wrong: Management will send an invoice, recognize the revenue, and trade receivable.

Tense Changes
Similar to parallel structure, verb tense changes can create confusion for your reader. This is a mistake I personally overlook in my writing over and over. So maybe if I write about it, I’ll fix my own tense problems, right? That’s what I’m hoping for. Sometimes, our poor tense use is subtle:

✗ We deviated from proper structure and use the wrong verb tense.

See what I did? I used a past tense verb with a present tense verb in the same sentence. Ahhh, I do it all the time! Instead, commit to a tense—either present or past for both verbs:

✓We stay with proper structure and use the same verb tense.
✓We stayed with proper structure and used the same verb tense.

It’s the same in auditing though:
✗ Sales submitted incomplete checklists and forgets to sign the final page.
✓ Sales submitted incomplete checklists and forgot to sign the final page.

Use of i.e. versus e.g.
This editing error trips auditors up all the time, because i.e. and e.g. don’t mean the same thing but people think they do. To clarify something you’ve said, you use i.e. Use e.g. to add color to a story or idea by sharing an example. And always abbreviate and use a comma to separate from the rest of the phrase.

✓The Company uses a single platform (i.e., LinkedIn) to share social media content, but could branch out to other platforms as well (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).

Hyphenation faux-pas
In audit, we use a lot of abbreviations and hyphens. We sign on with a login, have a log-in (or login) name, and we log in to the computer. Why do we hyphenate end-user verification but don’t hyphenate end user? The rules about hyphenations are more like guidelines, so you’ll want to keep your dictionary handy. The AP style often defers to how words are used in each industry.

For example, if end user is used in a way that user is the noun and end is the adjective describing the noun, this is an oil and water problem. The words are different parts of speech; they won’t mix well, and therefore should not be hyphenated. However, if end and user are both used as adjectives to describe the noun verification (e.g., the end-user verification), then adjectives mix with adjectives and end and user can be hyphenated.

Here’s my parting editing advice for today: you’re human, and so am I. If you try to overhaul your next report completely, you’ll just feel overwhelmed. But also, don’t just leave all the editing to your managers. They don’t like it.

So take a page of your report and spend an extra few minutes going through that page, editing a couple of points that you want to improve. Make this part of your audit report writing routine, and you’ll gradually discover that you can catch your mistakes early. Or better yet, you’ll discover you’re not making them anymore! (But since we’re human, we’ll just make different mistakes instead. That gives us all a bit of hope, and me a bit of job security.

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