Using visuals in audits

Do you want to learn more about the use of visuals in audits? Then click here for the e-learning course, Visuals in Audits (access after registration).

Using visuals in audits

Just like a language, it takes time to learn how to use visuals. Our experience at the Design Audit Studio is that auditors tend to work mainly with words and rarely use visuals. Yet visuals have so much to offer!

Why use visuals in audits?

Visualising information creates new insights and reveals where team members disagree and agree with each other (a shared understanding). They also help auditors get their message across to stakeholders more effectively. This is why the Netherlands Court of Audit is using more visuals in the form of infographics in its reports.

To encourage auditors to work visually, the role and purpose of visuals must be considered during the audit itself. Linda Meijer’s thesis shows that auditors are aware there is more to their work than just words. An e-learning programme (accessible via the AFROSAI-E Learning Platform (ALP)) has therefore been developed to make auditors visually literate.

Start learning now!

To access the Visuals in Audits e-learning programme, go to and click on the e-learning tab (top right). Click on register and complete the profile information. You will receive an email confirming your registration within 24 hours. With your confirmed user name and password, you can then take the course via the AFROSAI-E Learning Platform (ALP). The course is listed in the category Innovative Audit Skills.

The Visuals in Audits e-learning course has been developed by auditors for auditors and is available in 5 languages: English, Dutch, French, Arabic and Portuguese. After registration, this basic course in the use of visuals is free to auditors at all Supreme Audit Institutions worldwide. Our goal is to make the entire SAI community visually literate.

How to use visuals in your audits

The first thing to be aware of is that visuals are an integral part of an audit and not a last-minute add-on. Visualising your audit while you are carrying it out will not only improve your audit work (new insights, shared understandings) but will also strengthen the graphic designer’s involvement in the message you want to get across. The form will then follow the audit content. You can use visuals in all stages of your work: before, during and after the audit. Visuals also serve several purposes: they can illustrate, inform and even persuade. Some examples are given below. 

A visual audit plan
figuur Geothermal energy en drinking water

An infographic to explain how geothermal heat and drinking water are extracted at various depths in the earth’s surface.
Figuur 3 innovation
An example of a visual used as a discussion aid and reporting tool during the webinar of the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee (7-8 October 2020).