XBRL Instance Documents in Excel
S. Mahoney and Clinton White, Jr.
JULY 2007 - If
it isn’t part of an accountant’s vocabulary yet, XBRL
(extensible business reporting language) is sure to be soon. The
FDIC requires banks to file their quarterly call reports using XBRL-compliant
documents. The SEC encourages registrants to report their financial
information using XBRL and is updating its EDGAR system to handle
XBRL filings and to support “interactive” data access
XBRL documents can be tedious and error-prone if done manually.
Fortunately, software tools are continually being developed and
improved to help make the creation of valid XBRL documents easier.
For a list of available XBRL software, visit XBRL International
Inc.’s Dragon Tag and Dragon View (www.rivetsoftware.com)
are a simple solution for tagging existing financial information.
Dragon Tag and Dragon View are both add-in packages for Microsoft
Excel and Word. Dragon Tag facilitates tagging financial information
to create XBRL instance documents, review the results, validate
the XBRL instance documents, and render them as webpages. Dragon
View allows viewing of XBRL instance documents without knowledge
of XBRL. (All XBRL documents are referred to as “instance”
documents because they are an instance of the documents defined
in the XBRL specification.) The AICPA started promoting Dragon
Tag and Dragon View in 2006.
demonstrates the use of Dragon Tag to prepare a valid XBRL partial
balance sheet for commercial and industrial companies following
U.S. GAAP. Users can download a 30-day free copy (the regular
cost is $995 per user) of Rivet Dragon Tag follow the exercise
in this article, and create a partial balance sheet. (Note that
coauthor Lois S. Mahoney uses her name for the example.)
step is to go to Rivet Software’s site, www.rivet
software.com, and download Dragon Tag 2006 (30-day free trial),
along with the installation instructions. Once you install the
software, click on “Start Excel with Dragon Tag Add-in”
and the Dragon Tag toolbar will appear in Excel.
step is downloading U.S. GAAP taxonomy for commercial and industrial
companies (USGCI). The USGCI taxonomy is a suite of files that
defines the agreed-upon, standard account tags (names) to be used
for reporting information in computerized financial statements
and the ways in which accounts are grouped together for subtotals,
totals, and presentation. These files need to be downloaded from
the XBRL International website in order to assure proper referencing
and validation when building the XBRL instance document.
International website has approved taxonomies for different financial
reporting entities and for particular industry sectors (www.xbrl.org/FRTApproved/).
To demonstrate a commercial company, follow the link for U.S.
GAAP-Commercial and Industrial (www.xbrl.org/us/fr/gaap/ci/2005-02-28/us-gaapci%20Summary%20Page.htm).
to the “All DTS files” and click on “ZIP”
to download the suite of files. In this example, we will download
the Zip file to the root drive and unzip or extract the archive
(it can be saved anywhere, but make a note of the location). Later
in the example, you will need the file “us-gaap-ci-2005-02-28.xsd”
in the unzipped directory C:\2005-02-28 CI DTS\us\fr\gaap\ci\2005-02-28\.
step is to create a Word or Excel document that contains the financial
statement information that will be transformed into an XBRL instance
1 shows a partial balance sheet for a fictitious company named
White Incorporated, developed by the authors in Excel for this
demonstration. Using Dragon Tag, we will tag the account values
in the balance column with the appropriate XBRL tags and create
a valid XBRL partial balance sheet instance document in accordance
with U.S. GAAP.
an Entity Profile
step in using Dragon Tag is to establish an entity profile. An
entity profile contains the name, ID, and website of the reporting
company, along with the default reporting currency and the taxonomy
to be used. To start the Entity Profile, click on the “Entity
Profiles” button on the Dragon Tag toolbar. The Entity Profile
dialog box will now appear.
on the “Create New Entities” icon to create and name
a new entity (Exhibit
2). First, enter the name of the company, White Incorporated,
in the “Name” field. Next, complete the “Unique
ID and Scheme” section. For ID, choose the unique ID that
you normally use for outside reporting, such as a federal tax
ID or stock exchange ID. Enter your company’s website address
in the URL text box. For this example, enter “WI”
in the ID field for White Incorporated and “www.whiteincorpoated.com/xbrl”
for the URL. From the “Default Currency” menu, choose
“USD United States Dollar.” Finally, go to the “Default
Taxonomy” field and click on the “Browse” button.
The “Open Taxonomy File” dialog box should appear.
At this point, Dragon Tag expects you to navigate to and open
the schema file that you previously downloaded. Navigate to its
location on your hard drive (in this example, it should be in
the folder C:\2005-02-28 CI DTS\us\fr\gaap\ci\2005-02-28\), click
“us-gaap-ci-2005-02-28.xsd” (.xsd identifies it as
a XML schema file), and open the file. At this point, the “Entity
Profile” dialog box should look like Exhibit
3. Notice the green hexagon now under the browse button, which
indicates that the schema file has been properly installed. Also
notice how the Name, Description, Language, Label Role, and View
Type fields are automatically populated. The final step is to
click the “Save Entity” icon in the upper left-hand
corner and close the Entity Profiles dialog box.
the Balance Sheet Numbers
step is to actually tag the data items (numbers) in column B of
the spreadsheet (see Exhibit 1) using the previously downloaded
taxonomy. This taxonomy contains agreed-upon tags (names) for
commercial and industrial companies to use in their financial
reporting. To find the name tags, click the “Markup Data”
button on the Dragon Tag toolbar, and the “Reporting Elements”
dialog box should appear. Next,
click the “Reporting Elements” button in the lower
left-hand corner, then double-click “My Taxonomies”
in the top of the reporting elements text box, and then double
click on “us-gaap-ci-2005-02-28.” The dialog box should
now look like Exhibit
4. Notice that the tags are grouped in categories that correspond
to each financial statement. Because the example is a partial
balance sheet, double-click on the “Statement of Financial
Position” and drill down to find the appropriate tags for
the accounts shown in the spreadsheet.
drill down to find the tag for cash. To do so, double-click Statement
of Financial Position > Statement of Financial Position >
Assets > Assets-Current > Cash-Cash Equivalents and Short-Term
Investments > and Cash and Cash Equivalents > Cash - Unrestricted.
You will see that Cash - Unrestricted contains a green circle
to its left, indicating that it is an approved XBRL tag. Click
and drag “Cash - Unrestricted” to cell B7 (or the
cell containing the cash balance) in the worksheet. Notice, as
shown in Exhibit
5, that cell B7 turns blue, indicating that the cell has been
tagged. Also notice that a green circle with a star now appears
next to Cash - Unrestricted in the “Reporting Elements”
dialog box, indicating that the Cash - Unrestricted tag has been
Now you need
to tag the remaining numbers in our Excel spreadsheet. Repeat
these steps for each of the accounts in column B of the sample
spreadsheet. The tags can be found in the following categories
in the “Reporting Elements” dialog box:
Net - Total—under the Receivables, Net category
Net—under Inventories, Net category
- Current - Total—under the Assets-Current category.
check to ensure that each of the tagged cells in your spreadsheet
(those that report a balance) has turned blue, indicating that
each has been tagged. Once each of the balances has an approved
XBRL tag, this stage is complete.
Date and Precision of Reported Numbers
step is to enter into Dragon Tag the date of the financial statements
and the level of precision needed. To enter the appropriate date,
click on the Calendar button located in the lower left-hand corner
of the “Reporting Elements” dialog box and then expand
your Calendar window by clicking on the “>>”
icon in the upper right-hand corner.
box should now look like Exhibit
6. Right-click on “My Calendar Periods” in the
upper left-hand corner of the Calendar dialog box and click on
“Add Time Period.” Calendar 1 should now appear. To
set the balance sheet date, click on the “As-of-Date”
button and change the date to 12/31/2006 in the drop-down menu.
Finally, you need to tag all the numbers in column B of your spreadsheet
with this date. To do so, click and drag “Calendar 1”
to each of the tagged cells in the spreadsheet. Notice that a
blue star now appears next to “Calendar 1” in the
dialog box, indicating that it has been used for tagging.
the level of precision (the level of rounding), click on the “Numeric
Units” button located in the lower left-hand corner of the
dialog box, and then double-click on “Simple Units.”
“Precision” and then check the box labeled “Digits
as shown” in the “Precision” box (see Exhibit
7) on the right to indicate that the balances in the spreadsheet
have not been rounded. (If the numbers have been rounded, check
the appropriate box.) The next step is to tag all the balances
in column B of the spreadsheet with this precision level. Click
and drag “Digits as Shown” to each of the cells in
the spreadsheet. Notice that a green star now appears next to
“Digits as Shown,” indicating that it has been used
for tagging. At this point, click the “Save” button
and close the dialog box before the next step.
step is to validate the markup to ensure that every number (account
balance) has been tagged with a name, date, and precision level.
To validate your markup, click on the “Validate Markup”
button on the Dragon Tag toolbar, and the “Markup Validation”
dialog box will appear. Click on the “Validate” button.
If all of your markup is correct, the dialog box will return the
following message: “There are no validation errors found
in the current document” (see Exhibit
8). If you did not markup your document correctly, the report
will show markup errors in red and incomplete markups in gray.
The error message indicates the type of error and the cell it
is located in. Fix any errors, and then revalidate the spreadsheet
until everything is correct.
an XBRL Instance Document
step is to complete your XBRL partial balance sheet instance document.
Click on the “Export XBRL” button on the Dragon Tag
toolbar to reach the export dialog box.
your XBRL document, click the “Save File” button (Exhibit
9) and name the file; for example, WhiteInc Balancesheet.xml.
The .xml extension indicates that this file is a XML document—all
XBRL instance documents are also XML documents and the .xml extension
is universally recognized by software applications. The resulting
XBRL instance document file can be sent via e-mail, posted on
a website, or filed with a regulatory authority. If you want to
see how your file will look as a webpage in your browser, click
on the “Web Preview” button; the sample spreadsheet
should look like Exhibit
10. To create this webpage, Dragon Tag uses the standard presentation
information found in the us-gaap-ci-2005-02-08 taxonomy to label
the line items and create a standard Statement of Financial Position
with the Basics
Tag is an easy-to-use tool to create and validate XBRL instance
documents from existing Excel spreadsheets. As XBRL comes of age
as a computerized financial reporting format, accountants should
become more familiar with its basic concepts, including taxonomies,
tags, instance documents, and validation. XBRL provides accountants
with the tools to add meaning and context to accounting, financial,
and business operations data, making it understandable, reusable,
and precisely interpretable by software applications. XBRL instance
documents can be coded by hand but must be validated by special
software applications, such as Dragon Tag, which performs the
validation from the convenience of an Excel spreadsheet.
of this article has been to introduce readers to the basics of
creating and validating XBRL instance documents through the use
of one common software solution. There are others out there, such
as CoreFiling, Creative Solutions, Fujitsu (see www.xbrl.org/tools/),
and all of the products will continue to evolve with the technology.
This article represents the first step in becoming familiar with
XBRL, an emerging financial reporting standard that will become
more important over time.
S. Mahoney, PhD, CMA, CPA, is an assistant professor in
the department of accounting and finance at Eastern Michigan University,
Clinton White, Jr., DBA, is a professor in the
department of accounting and MIS in the Alfred Lerner College of
Business and Economics at the University of Delaware, Newark, Del.