Lessons from the initial XBRL submissions

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06 Dec 2009

Deloitte United States has published a Heads Up Newsletter titled Lessons Learned From Reviewing the Initial Submissions of Interactive Data (XBRL) Files.

The US SEC rules requiring submission of XBRL files became effective for the first quarterly filing for a period ended on or after 15 June 2009 for domestic and foreign registrants using US GAAP that have a worldwide public float of more than $5 billion. Since then, over 1,000 XBRL exhibits have been submitted to the SEC in the first phase-in group under the SEC rules. This Heads Up newsletter, which is based on analyses of the submissions both by Deloitte and by the SEC staff, identifies lessons learned from the initial XBRL submissions and makes recommendations that are intended to help registrants avoid problems with their interactive data file submissions. Here is a summary of the recommendations – the newsletter has detailed guidance on each one:

Mapping, Element Selection, and Extension Elements

  • Avoid creating unnecessary extension elements.
  • Use appropriate context references instead of creating extension elements.
  • Provide a definition for all extension elements and debit/credit balance attribute information for monetary extension elements where required.
  • Be consistent in the use of extension elements.
  • Avoid selecting elements that are overly broad or overly narrow.
  • Do not select deprecated elements when mapping.
  • Be diligent about documenting selected elements and the reasons for their selection.


  • Ensure all amounts are entered correctly (ie, as a positive or negative balance) and that decimal attributes are correctly set.
  • Be aware that converting information in financial statement tables to an XBRL format introduces complexity and may require additional time and resources.
  • Be sure to tag parenthetical amounts shown on the face of the financial statements.

Other Recommendations

  • Obtain sufficient knowledge about EDGAR Filer Manual requirements.
  • Establish a sustainable and repeatable process for creating interactive data files concurrently with preparation of the traditional financial statements.
  • Do not overemphasize trying to conform the rendering of the interactive data exhibit to the presentation of the traditional financial statements.
  • Perform an EDGAR test filing before transmitting the live submission.
  • Be sure to post a complete interactive data file on the corporate Web site in the required time frame.
  • Use the 'Amendment Flag' element correctly.

Click for  Heads Up Newsletter: Lessons Learned From Reviewing the Initial Submissions of Interactive Data (XBRL) Files (PDF 125k)

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