In-depth background knowledge from studies, glossary and downloads

Background knowledge

The XBRL format – currently best known in financial reporting through SEC filings in the USA – is designed for purely machine-based evaluation and can only be displayed in human-readable format with special viewer software. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) wants to correct this drawback by using iXBRL development to provide clear presentations to other stakeholders. iXBRL integrates the machine-readable structure into an XHTML document that can be viewed in any web browser. The iXBRL document, as well as the basic structure (taxonomy) developed and defined by ESMA, correspond with the required ESEF format.


The key terms are described below

ESEF European Single Electronic Format means a single electronic format for financial reporting in the EU. XHTML is required as the report format. In IFRS consolidated financial statements, financial disclosures must also be labelled using iXBRL (tagging) in such a way that they can be machine-read automatically.

ESMA The European Securities and Markets Authority was established in Paris on January 1, The Authority is part of the European financial supervisory system and has the task of protecting the public interest by contributing to the short, medium and long-term stability and effectiveness of the financial system for the EU economy.

HTML Hypertext Markup LanguageText-based markup language for the formatted presentation of text blocks, images and hyperlinks, etc., which forms the basis of websites.

iXBRL inline eXtensible Business Reporting LanguageMethod that feeds the content of an XBRL instance document into an XHTML document so that it can be displayed in a web browser.

Taxonomy – Catalogue of individual elements that are described, classified and displayed in a contiguous structure; in the XBRL context, the set of individual elements of a specific accounting framework (e.g. IFRS taxonomy with all balance sheet items, EU taxonomy for classifying economic activities in terms of sustainability  etc.).

XBRL eXtensible Business Reporting LanguageAn XML-based markup language designed specifically for the creation and distribution of machine-readable financial reports.

XHTML eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language is a text-based markup language used to structure and semantically tag content, such as text, images and hyperlinks in documents. It is a new way of translating HTML 4.01 into XML. In contrast to HTML, XHTML uses the more stringent subset of XML as language basic.

XML eXtensible Markup Language is a markup language; a standard format for documents with content that is to be machine-readable and machine-interpretable.


Our handout provides a concise summary of the most important information:


Barrrantes/Dix/Mittelbach-Hörmanseder: XBRL –Entwicklungen in der Digitalisierung der Unternehmensberichterstattung, in Rechnungswesen RWZ 6/2019

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