Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Completeness


Quick Summary of Completeness

Qualitative characteristic expected in financial statements.

What is the dictionary definition of Completeness?

Dictionary Definition

  1. The state or condition of being complete
  2. logic The property of a logical theory that whenever a wff is valid then it must also be a theorem. Symbolically, letting T represent a theory within logic L, this can be represented as the property that whenever T \vDash \phi is true, then T \vdash \phi must also be true, for any wff φ of logic L.

Full Definition of Completeness

Completeness is 1 of 5 audit assertions presented by Statement of Auditing Standards No. 31 (SAS 31).

SAS 31 states, “Assertions about completeness deal with whether all transactions and accounts that should be presented in the financial statements are so included.”. To support the completeness assertion, the auditor obtains sufficient, competent evidence that transactions that should be recorded have been recorded. The auditor’s consideration of materiality allows the auditor to support the statement that a sufficient number of transactions – enough to avoid a misstatement of consequence (which would lead to restatement – have been recorded. Testing to support the Completeness assertion originates with externally-generated source documents indicating that a transaction has occurred.

SAS 31 is dedicated to the topic of “evidential matter”. Thus, adherence to this auditing pronouncement requires that the auditor generate sufficient evidence that the records of transactions are complete – with no omissions or extra items whether fraudulent (see SAS 99) or non-intentional – at least to the point of not resulting material misstatements.

Audit procedures should proceed from the externally-generated source documents mentioned above. In the case of a client that is a retailer, an example of a source documents is an invoice from a vendor (supplier to the client) along with the receiving report that might be obtained from the warehouse supervisor. The invoice and receiving report are then traced to the journal, which should trace to the general ledger (GL). The GL entry will then flow into the correct line item in the financial statement, which in this case is Cost of goods sold in the income statement.

In testing Completeness, the auditor can set up audit procedures in several different ways.

  • Test of details – Substantive test that usually tests the majority of an account balance. With respect to COGS in the example given above, a test of details would entail tracing many of the invoices and receiving reports to the journal.
  • Analytical procedure – An alternative substantive test which, in this case, might be based on the quarter-on-quarter percentage of COGS in relation to total sales. Note that often, analytical procedures are supported by a test of details on a smaller basis in which several random or larger transaction will be chosen to trace back to the general ledger.
  • Gap detection – With today’s powerful proprietary software programs developed by public accounting firms, it is possible to scan (note that “scanning” by itself rarely holds on its own as sufficient evidential matter) for completeness. For example, the company checks used to pay the vendors should be tied to specific receipts, which should somehow tie into the ending inventory balance. An auditor may request the client’s check register (complete listing) for the period in soft copy (electronic format) and transfer the data to the auditor’s software program. If there are the checks in the register are not listed in chronological order or there are missing check numbers, it is an indication of an error or of fraud on the part of management or any other of the client’s employees. The auditor would follow up on these discrepancies, usually via inquiry with the employee responsible for handling the check register (Accounts Payable Department, for example).

Synonyms For Completeness

integrity, entirety, wholeness, integrality, totality

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Completeness. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
January 23, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Completeness. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: January 23, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Completeness. Retrieved January 23, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Completeness are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 18th April, 2020 | 560 Views.