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Writing Effective Audit Reports

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Date(s): Mar 16, 2021 - Mar 17, 2021
Time: 8:00AM - 4:30PM
Registration Fee: $429.00
Cancellation Date: Mar 09, 2021
Location: Online

Course Description

Audit reports can significantly lose their effect if not written well and presented in an easy-to-read format. But getting to that beautiful report stage can be painful. This two-day-long report-writing course is a fresh take on stale report writing. Using real issues from companies, the class focuses on how to write effective, succinct issues and how to create reports that get noticed. Not only will managers spend less time editing reports, but auditors also learn techniques to reduce that lengthy report writing stage.


This course focuses on writing skills. It will help auditors at all levels refine their writing skills and brush up on the basics. The course provides instruction on all aspects of effective writing that applies to any audit or business-related documents. You will learn techniques for organizing information and ideas and strategies for achieving clear, concise, and complete communication. Together we'll explore how to help one another improve writing and achieve a consistent voice in writing between all audit teams. We will look at the methods to improving communication both during and after fieldwork that contribute to an overall shorter report writing stage.


Potential CPE Credits: 16.0
Govt Hours: This class meets 16.0 hours of the 24-hour requirement for governmental CPE under Government Auditing Standards (yellow book), in most cases.
Technical Hours: This class meets 16.0 CPE credits of technical training in compliance with Texas Admin. Code Rule 523.102.

Instruction Type: Live
Experience Level: BEGINNING
Category: 02 Auditing

Course Objectives

Lesson 1


Section 1.1: Organizing Writing 

1.       Overview of Audit Report Writing Boot Camp
• introduction of students and trainer
• overall objectives
• writing challenges and considerations
• knowing your audience


2.       Issue Prewriting
• plotting the report at the beginning of fieldwork
• methods for consistent client communication
• what an audit issue describes
• 5-step writing formula and the air: key elements in any issue


Section 1.2: Issue Writing 

1.       Supporting the Issue 
• key differences between causes, conclusions, and evidence
• the sweet spot of supportive detail: not too much and not too little

2.       Assessing the Root Cause
• steps to effective root cause analysis (RCA)
• the difference between issue, symptom, and root cause
• strategies in RCA
• when and how to engage the client in RCA
• reporting root causes: positive vs. negative wording

3.       Writing Strong Business Risks
• purpose of a business risk
• keeping common risks convincing (LIVe)
• using action verbs to create change

4.       Developing Effective Issue Statements: A Formula
• title of an audit 
• what an issue statement describes
• the 5-sentence burst
• writing the issue statement 

5.       Developing Effective Recommendations
• keeping recommendations SMART
• using recommendations for issue follow-up


Section 1.3: Perfecting Writing (“Common Grammar and Punctuation Pitfalls”) 

1.       Clean Out the Junk and Get to the Issue 
• paragraphing and formatting 
• bullet lists, headings, fonts
• passive voice
• wordiness
• ambiguity
• negative wording
• non-parallel structure
• punctuation


2.       Applying Your Company’s Issues to the Formula: In-House Editing
Summary: Audit Report Writing Toolbox  

Lesson 2    


Section 2.1: Writing Effective Emails 

1. Timing Your Communication
2. Title
3. Body
4. Closing
5. Final Email Writing Tips And Exercise

Section 2.2: Improving Tone in Writing 

1. The Chicken Little Dilemma
2. Connotations of Words
3. Placement of Negation
4. Sequence of Negation
5. Relative Information
6. How to Change Tone

Section 2.3: Design Elements 

1. Instructional Design
2. Graphics & Fonts
3. Layering
4. Using Sidelines and Flow
5. Executive Summary Redesign Challenge


Section 2.4: Advanced Editing

1. Pronouns
2. Synonyms
3. Transitions
4. Ending Sentences


Section 2.5: Audit Writing Toolbox & Summary 

1. Managing the Release Process
2. Final Toolbox



No prerequisites required.

Government Hours: 4.23(q)


Sarah Swanson

Sarah Swanson is the founder of Tumbleweed Writing and a consultant for MIS Training Institute. As a professional writer and editor, she has 17 years experience in technical, marketing, and audit report writing. In 2005, Ms. Swanson joined Hewlett Packard’s Internal Audit team. At HP, she saw that auditors often struggled to write final reports. She committed herself to making the writing experience better. Sarah takes a simple, formulaic approach to writing with focus on content, grammar, and brevity. Her goal is to empower auditors to take command of their writing and create impactful reports that get released on time. The trainings she created for HP led her to working with other companies including Corporate Executive Board, Audit Directors Roundtable, various chapters in The IIA, and multiple private and public corporations throughout the world.

Additional Information

TAC Rule 523.142(g) requires the CPE Sponsor to monitor individual attendance and assign the correct number of CPE credits. Participants will be asked to document their time of arrival and departure in compliance with this Rule. Additionally, attendance will be monitored throughout the day and CPE certificates will reflect actual attendance of each participant.

If you are making travel plans to come to Austin, we recommend making "refundable" air and hotel reservations or waiting until 14 days before the class to actually book your reservations. Courses are occasionally canceled or rescheduled due to low enrollment. We determine whether a course has enough participants 16 days prior to the course date. If we cancel or reschedule, we will email the participant and his or her billing contact no later than 14 days before the original class date.

The course coordinator will contact you with parking information. Handicapped parking is free at the meters around the downtown area.

Vending machines with Coca-Cola products and various snack items are available. There is also a refrigerator and microwave in our coffee bar area. Feel free to bring in your own drinks and food if you prefer.

You might want to bring a light sweater or jacket, as room temperatures vary.

To see answers to our Frequently Asked Questions, visit

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