What is XBRL?

XBRL, the format for delivering financial reports in an interactive digital format

XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. XBRL has emerged as the most widely accepted form of disseminating financial information thanks to sponsorship by a consortium of security regulators, stock exchanges, financial publishing houses, accounting organizations and corporations.

Users of financial information are delighted to receive the information as “interactive data with commonly accepted labels” for three reasons:


  • Each piece of information provided means the same thing to everyone leaving little scope for misunderstanding. This is ensured by tagging each piece of information with an accounting label in a standardized taxonomy based on US GAAP or IFRS.
  • Financial information can be read with “interactive reader” software that permits drill down, slice/dice, trending or comparison with benchmarks and best performers. The usual challenge of converting data into information and information into insight is eliminated.
  • Financial information can be quickly extracted into financial models in spreadsheets without having to worry about what the information represents or spending time reading and keying-in data.

What is XBRL tagging?

XBRL tagging is the process by which any financial data is tagged with the most appropriate element in an accounting taxonomy (a dictionary of accounting terms) that best represents the data in addition to tags that facilitate identification/classification (such as enterprise, reporting period, reporting currency, unit of measurement etc). Since all XBRL reports use the same taxonomy, numbers associated with the same element are comparable irrespective of how they are described by those releasing the financial statements.

What is taxonomy (or XBRL taxonomy)?

XBRL taxonomy is a dictionary of widely accepted accounting terms that conform to a GAAP (US GAAP, UK GAAP, IFRS etc).

Benefits of XBRL reporting:

Users of financial statements are delighted to receive information in XBRL format because:

  • They receive reliable/accurate data that they do not need to validate
  • They receive the benefit of immediate analysis and insight without having to wait for filings
  • Retail investors at home benefit from “analysis” that is currently available only to professional investors in mutual funds.
  • Professional investors benefit from lower costs associated with gathering, aggregating and analyzing data and the higher reliability of data so they can cover more stocks.
  • Corporate finance professionals like dissemination of financial statements in XBRL format because It
    • provides quick and accurate understanding of financial performance in the capital markets,
    • eliminates “noise” and
    • facilitates speedy discovery of share prices
  • Large corporations benefit from an increase in the number of analysts covering the stock.
  • Smaller corporations (competing for analyst attention) benefit by jumping ahead in the queue and getting analyst coverage by providing interactive data.

iXBRL, an improvement over XBRL

iXBRL stands for Inline XBRL. iXBRL format is an improvement over XBRL because it captures all the advantages of XBRL and yet is visually elegant and easily readable.

iXBRL is adopted as the UK Government standard for accepting financial statements attached to Corporation tax returns.

We offer XBRL and iXBRL services

We prepare financial statements in XBRL and iXBRL formats for corporate filings and mutual fund filings with Regulators. Visit our XBRL Services page for more information.

XBRL and iXBRL: tools of the future

We also specialize in delivering business intelligence reports in an interactive digital format (best viewed in an interactive device such as Apple iPad). Visit our Business Intelligence page for more details.