Using Taxonomies

XBRL taxonomies are central to the creation of XBRL documents. Whereas the XBRL documents contain a snapshot of business and financial facts, the XBRL taxonomies provide the definitions and relationships about these facts. Taxonomies are the "dictionaries" of XBRL. They define the individual reporting concepts (such as "net profit") and the relationships between them. Different taxonomies are required for different financial reporting purposes. Regional governments may need their own financial reporting taxonomies to reflect their local accounting regulations. Organizations such as nonprofits and corporations require taxonomies to handle their own business reporting requirements.

XBRL taxonomies may represent hundreds of individual business reporting concepts (elements). Each element has specific attributes that helps to define it, such as the labels, data types, expected balance type, and other data attributes.

The published taxonomies are "standard" taxonomies that represent most of what a typical company or regulator needs to report. Certain "open" taxonomies, such as SEC-US-GAAP, also enable extensions to a published taxonomy, for reporting specifications that are specific to the company or regulator. "Closed" taxonomies, such as IFRS, do not allow extensions.