How to Audit (Part 2): Essential Kit

An army would not go to war without a full complement of weapons, munitions, food and maps. Similarly, an auditor would not go into the audit room without some essential kit.

1) Blue, black, red and green pens – The most standard of audit tools, since the staple work involves marking up of schedules, invoices and other paper-based evidence. A red tick against a particular number says clearly that:

  • it agrees to the same number somewhere else in the accounts
  • it agrees to some other firm evidence
  • all is well in the accounting world

Auditors can demonstrate their creative side by using different coloured pens for different tick marks. The height of the auditors art is a multi-ticked and multi-coloured A3 Excel spreadsheet. However, the art is dying with the introduction of paper-less audit.


Before then, the debate rages between owners of single four-coloured pens and owners of four pens of different colour. The four-coloured pen is more useful, but it is more expensive and the auditor becomes impotent if it’s lost.

2) Second screen – Immensely useful. Second screens can be used to compare two documents, transfer information, or display different windows – like having email on one side and the internet on the other.

Unfortunately, carrying around a second screen on your back, in the tube on the way to a client is not practical. However, a second screen has other fringe benefits. Colleagues will wonder how you can use both eyes to focus on two separate screens (like a fighter pilot). It will make you appear 10% more intelligent and advanced.

two_screens3) Numpad – On average, an auditor will type out 1,456 numbers a day. Using the numbers at the top of the keyboard takes 0.4 seconds longer than using a numpad. That’s a potential saving of 9.7 minutes a day.

Auditors probably shouldn’t make up facts and numbers.

numpad4) iPod – Music helps you audit, especially Taylor Swift.

5) Jedi powers – Fancy equipment makes not an auditor. It is his experience and knowledge that add the value. Good auditors work out where the adding error occurred without use of a calculator. They manipulate Excel spreadsheets by the keyboard alone. They instantly recall the most obscure of numbers from one page out of a thousand in a five year old audit file. They bring calm to the audit room. They are the Audit Jedi Masters.

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