Writing Clear Audit Journal Entry Descriptions

Some audit journal entry descriptions leave me confused. They are sometimes vague, sometimes too wordy, and sometimes nonexistent.

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Here are a few examples:

  • To adjust to actual
  • To correct the balance
  • To adjust
  • To cause the balance to coordinate with accounts receivable for all subsidiaries, excluding amounts billed in the second week of March plus amounts not billed by Bill Johnson

And my favorite:

*

Meaning: No description was provided.

As you can see, some journal entries (JEs) are too brief, and some are too lengthy. But most importantly, many do not communicate clearly.

A good journal entry description is concise but understandable. In writing JE descriptions, we should ask ourselves, “will someone else understand the reason given?” and “will I understand the description six months from now?

It’s important that we don’t try to accomplish too much with one entry. It may be prudent to break a journal entry into two or three. We are not just making corrections. We are communicating. And when we try to say three things at the same time, it sounds like “to adj%#}+ to Ac/-:]~”. It’s gibberish.

As your English teacher used to say, “short, simple sentences communicate more clearly.” Breaking down a complicated JE into smaller parts may enable you to communicate more clearly.

Exclude the name of the person who made the error from the JE description. Consider who will see the journal entries–owners and management, not just accountants. Since it’s easy to offend the person who made the error, consider the tone and wording of the description.

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