This practical question came in regarding how to refer to a company repeatedly in a document.
We are struggling with an audit report writing issue. We use the business’s legal name, for example, Joe Smith Trucking Inc. We are not sure whether we should repeat the name every time we mention the company in the audit report. Our opening paragraph might read like this:
Joe Smith Trucking Inc. was audited for the period June 1, 2006, through May 31, 2007. They are in the business of hauling dry goods. Mr. Joe Smith is the president of the company, and Ms. Jane Smith is the secretary. We determined that the company has not been complying with the requirement to maintain withdrawal logs for their bulk fuel facility.
Should we use “Joe Smith Trucking Inc.” in every sentence? Or should we refer to “the company” and use them and they after the first reference, as we have in the example above?
Although I have never written an audit report, I am glad to offer advice based on general writing principles. Here are my suggestions:
Do not use the name of the company in every sentence. If only one company is the subject of the audit, it is not necessary to continually name it. The constant repetition of the name would be monotonous.
Use the phrase “the company” in place of the company name, as in the example above: “Mr. Joe Smith is the president of the company.”
Use the pronouns it and its to refer to the company: ” . . . to maintain withdrawal logs for its bulk fuel facility.” I suggest the singular it and its rather than the plural they, them, and their. The plural forms might point improperly at Joe and Jane Smith. The audit is of the company (it), not of Joe and Jane Smith (them).
Use the company name now and then in the report. That way, no reader will forget which company is being audited.
If you are an auditor, please share how you handle this issue.
Thank you, Arkansas auditors, for your question.