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Not All Taxonomies are Created Equally

November 30, 2008

XBRL consists of tagged data using standard data tags from a pre-defined Taxonomy (dictionary of data tags). Taxonomies are organized into three categories: (i) under development, (ii) Acknowledged and (iii) Approved.

An Acknoledged taxonomy is a taxonomy that was previously under development but is now recognized by XBRL International as being in compliance with the XBRL Specification. Specifications provide the fundamental technical definition of how XBRL works. The main, current specification for XBRL is version 2.1.

An Approved taxonomy is a previously Aknowledged taxonomy that meets essentially these criteria:

  • Complies with the Financial Reporting Taxonomies Architecture (FRTA) document, which is published in the Taxonomy Guidance section.
  • Have been used to create a number of instance documents which confirm it adequately covers the data it purports to represent.
  • Have been through a period of open review following initial Acknowledgement

There are more than a few taxonomies companies can use. There are taxonomies for the United States as well as other countries (for example a GAAP Commercial and Industrial taxonomy for Ireland). Some examples of types of US Taxonomies include GAAP-Investment Management, US Currency, US Document and Entity Information, US GAAP, US MD&A and US SEC Certification. For a full list of taxonomies see

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