A good working paper should meet the requirements of ISA 230 by displaying the following characteristics:
a) Standard form – A working paper should be prepared in a standard form. The subject matter should be arranged under various heading and subheadings.
b) Proper layout –Working papers should be in proper design and layout. This will bring uniformity into the maintenance of working papers. Where there is necessary reference to another working paper, the full reference of that other working paper must be given. A statement that details of testing can be found on ‘another working paper’ is insufficient.
d) Proper organization and arrangement – the working papers should be properly organized and arranged. In other words, the working papers should be so organized and arranged that the auditor will be able to locate any particular matter easily. The working paper should be clearly referenced so that it can be filed appropriately and found easily when required at a later date. It should be signed by the person who prepares it so that queries can be directed to the appropriate person. It should be signed and dated by any person who reviews it, in order to meet the quality control requirements of the review.
e) Completeness – the audit working papers should be complete in all respects. They should contain detailed information on all essential facts or points. It should state the full extent of the test (i.e. how many items were tested and how this number was determined). This will enable the preparer, and any subsequent reviewers, to determine the sufficiency of the audit evidence provided by the working paper. It should fully state the year/period end (e.g. 31 Dec 2019), so that the working paper is not confused with documentation belonging to a different year/period. The conclusions reached should be consistent with the results of the test and should be able to withstand independent scrutiny.
f) Clarity and Accuracy – the working papers should be quite clear, self –explanatory and accurate. It should state a clear audit objective, usually in terms
of an audit assertion (for example, ‘to ensure the completeness of trade payables’). The working paper should clearly and objectively state the results of the test, without bias, and based on the facts documented.
g) Good quality paper – paper of good quality should be used for working papers as they are subject to frequent handling further the paper used should be of uniform and convenient size so that they can be easily filed.
h) Space for margins – there should be enough space for margin after each note
for noting down the auditor’s remarks and decisions.