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Blog: What You Need to Know about XBRL

Blog: What You Need to Know about XBRL

A Q&A with Diane Mueller

XBRL - aka eXtensible Business Reporting Language - continues to impact the financial reporting landscape. The latest news? The US Securities and Exchange Commission issued its proposed rule for "interactive data," the SEC's shorthand for XBRL, which promises to increase the speed, accuracy, and usability of financial disclosure, and eventually reduce the costs of financial reporting.

Below, Diane Mueller discusses what users need to know about XBRL and what they need to do to ensure the accuracy and compliance of their reports. Along the way, she clarifies some key XBRL terminology and definitions. Diane is vice president of XBRL Development at JustSystems. She's also an at-large member of the XBRL International Steering Committee and the chair of the XBRL International Technical Working Group on Rendering.

Diane, to put this discussion in context, what exactly is XBRL?

XBRL is an XML mark-up language for business reporting, just like HTML is the mark-up language for web pages. XBRL is freely available, so there are no royalties on it. You can use XBRL in any software application or any documentation project.

XBRL is based on XML. And it's based on accepted financial reporting standards such as US GAAP, Japan GAAP and IFRS, the International Financial Reporting Standard. XBRL covers business reporting, including financial statements and financial information, non-financial information like extended business reporting initiatives, and general ledger transactions. XBRL is also used for regulatory filings and financial statements.

Basically, XBRL provides all the formal descriptions for financial concepts and terms and the relationships between them. For instance, XBRL describes the relationship between assets and liabilities, credits and debits, and drills all the way into accounts receivable and accounts payable with XBRL Global Ledger taxonomies.

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