What is XBRL ?

XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) is an XML-based computer language for the electronic transmission of business and financial data. The goal of XBRL is to standardize the automation of business intelligence. XML is a universally preferred data description language used to describe the storage, manipulation and exchange data via the Internet.

The idea behind XBRL is simple. Instead of treating financial information as a static text — as in a standard internet page or a printed document, XBRL provides an identifying tag for each individual item of data, whether numeric or textual. This tag is computer readable and allows the information to be used interactively.

Key XBRL regulatory report benefits:

Automation Cost Saving Faster Reliable and Accurate Analytical Better Quality of information and decision making


XBRL Terminology

Below are some brief definitions of common terms in XBRL reporting.

  • XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a standard created by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) which allows a user to describe the structure of data. Once the data has been marked up, computer programs and software can intelligently process this data.
  • XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is a form of XML designed specifically for the financial industry to increase efficiency, productivity and transparency in financial reporting.
  • Tags (markup language) are like bar codes used to markup and define data. In XBRL these tags can identify, describe and provide contextual information for each piece of information. These tags can be understood by a range of software applications allowing data to interface with databases, financial reporting systems and spread sheets.
  • Taxonomy is a system or dictionary which contains and organizes all of the tags used to markup a document. Currently XBRL International, the SEC and other organizations are funding the building of standardized taxonomies for the different financial industries in the United States. They are organized under the broad title of U.S.-GAAP/FRIS (U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles/Financial Reporting Instance Standards).
  • Instance document is a document where financial data has been tagged against the entities of XBRL taxonomies.
  • GAAP is the common set of accounting principles, standards and procedures that companies use to compile their financial statements. GAAP is a combination of authoritative standards (set by policy boards) and simply the commonly accepted ways of recording and reporting accounting information.