An Introduction to XBRL

19 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2007

See all articles by Jim Richards

Jim Richards

JDR & Associates; affiliation not provided to SSRN

Barry Smith

Dublin City University

Ali Saeedi

University of Minnesota

Date Written: 2006


XBRL, the eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is an open standards-based reporting system being built to accommodate the electronic preparation and exchange of business reports around the world. XBRL is all about the electronic tagging of data. It has been compared to the introduction of bar-coding and to the introduction of the ISBN number for books. While financial data is an obvious choice for electronic tagging, all data can be tagged. XBRL is an extension of XML, the eXtensible Markup Language. An extensible language means one that is designed to easily allow the addition of new features at a later date. As might be expected, the rules, or specifications, for these languages need to be managed so as to allow consistency in their development. The goal of XBRL is to develop a standard set of XML-type tags that can be used to create instance documents that can be then presented in a variety of formats. XBRL is not trying to set new accounting standards; it is attempting to standardise the XML-based tags that are used in business reporting so that the business reports prepared by organisations can be more easily compared and collated for regulatory and other purposes.

Keywords: HTML- HyperText Markup Language, XML- eXtensible Markup Language, XBRL- eXtensible Business Reporting Language

JEL Classification: M49

Suggested Citation

Richards, Jim and Richards, Jim and Smith, Barry and Saeedi, Ali, An Introduction to XBRL (2006). Available at SSRN: or

Jim Richards

JDR & Associates ( email )

PO Box 2637

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Barry Smith

Dublin City University ( email )

Ireland 9
Dublin 9, leinster 9

Ali Saeedi (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota ( email )

MN 56716-5001
United States
218-281-8117 (Phone)

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