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A Preparer's Guide to XBRL


XBRL, eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is a global electronic information format designed to transmit and store business information in a machine readable format. XBRL is also referred to as “interactive data” by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC ”). Companies that use XBRL assigned unique, electronically readable tags to all individual disclosure items within business reports. These tags are part of taxonomies that are developed by market constituents, are publicly available and license free. Historically business reports treated financial information as blocks of text like a printed document or a web page. Blocks of text cannot be read by computers. But with XBRL, identifying tags provide each individual item of data with an electronic context. For example, by tagging each amount with a contextual tag, a computer can understand that the tagged amount represents gross profit, in U.S. dollars, for a period of time, for a certain entity, and similar information about the amount. Once an amount is tagged with its context, the amount can move from system to system with its context in place thereby being understood no matter the technology platform or application used.

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