I) XBRL Research Assistance
II) Teaching Material
III) Exam Questions

I)XBRL Research Assistance

EXTRACTING TICKER from SEC XBRL file: A ticker field may be extracted from a SEC XBRL file located at site a file. An unzipped file directory will look like
STEP 2.Copy the sub file to a separate file directory … like
STEP 3.Open the sub file with EXCEL [Choose delimited, Go to column AH] … like
STEP 4.Insert 3 columns to the right of AH … like
STEP 5.In AI, search for “– “ in AHI
And return

STEP 6.In AJ, subtract 1 from Step 5B AI
And return


STEP 7.In AK, capture the tic from AH, with a substring command using AH and AJ information
And return

Step 8.Copy down the 3 column computations from the setup to give tickers for every row in the entire file. One is always cautioned to confirm a few sample points (e.g., with an independent search on the appropriate exchange, internet browser or SEC search page).


II)Teaching Material A.XBRL SEC 1st look, B. Mini-Cases, C.Semester Project, D.Short Taxonomy Tag List, E. Footnote Exercise

A.XBRL SEC first look at real world data

1.The lesson will be to examine a real world 10K line-item account of that a company filed with the SEC.  The line-item will be compared from the standard HTML file with the XBRL file.  The learning objective is to show the XBRL format and to demonstrate the size/complexity of the XBRL instance document.  The example company will be Heinz. The next several screen shots walk through the process of accessing SEC 10K reports starting with launching an internet browser and going to the SEC web site

2.Select “Company Filings Search” in the “Filings” section which will show the following.  Choose “Company or fund name, ticker symbol ….” And then enter the company name “Heinz” and press the “Find Companies” button.

3.The result will be a list of filings with the search name “heinz”

4.You want the first one in the list with SIC 2030 and so press the CIK number which will result in a list of Heinz filings like the one below.  Your web browser list is NOT going to look exactly like the list below because new filings are added to the list from the top.  You should choose a recent 10K annual filing by selecting “Documents” next to the 10-K filing.

The Heinz Search result

The Complete Heinz listings



Selecting the Heinz Company

Select “Documents” next to the 10-K filing


The Heinz result file list

The result list is seperated by text or data views


Opening the TEXT file

Check the Goodwill line item




5.From this list, you can view the regular text file in the top group of Document Format Files and the XBRL instance document in the bottom Data Files group.  We are going to check the correspondence of text and XBRL information for the “Goodwill” line item.  Let’s open the text HTML file and go to the balance sheet for “Goodwill”.  The 10K reports have a prescribed order of management information (e.g., MD&A) followed by financial statements.  We will scroll down to the balance sheet assets for “Goodwill”.  The balance sheet below has Goodwill for April 27, 2011 at 3,298,441 in thousands.


Heinz Goodwill as a XBRL instance document

Now check as a XBRL instance document

6.Next, close the HTML file and open the XBRL instance document.  The first thing to show students is that the file is in XML format which makes the file long and somewhat complex.  You should know what you are looking for in an XBRL file because it does not look or feel user friendly.  In this situation, we will search for the Goodwill balance sheet number of 3298441 (don’t put in the commas). Use the “Find” button in the Firefox tab or equivalent in any other browser.

7.You can now discuss the features of an XBRL line item in an XBRL instance document. 

i.The XML format has the XBRL designation at the beginning of the data observation and at the end.  The designation has the XBRL taxonomy source us-gaap followed by the XBRL tag label Goodwill.  Next, there is a time-frame identification in “contextRef.”  You can remind in your discussion that the data is the same as the text file.  The unitRef USD refers to United States Dollars.  The decimals -3 designates thousands.  The number 3298441 is the Goodwill line-item amount.  The last field which closes the data observation is the same as the first.


ii.From this example, you can see how the XML information is organized to facilitate the electronic transfer into any computer program.  This feature is a major feature about XBRL.  Also, it can be noted that the XBRL tag Goodwill can be referenced through to GAAP code which would be applicable to audit working papers, etc.     


B. A short class exercise for XBRL is to compute a financial ratio using XBRL data.

-For instance compute the Current ratio = Current Assets /Current Liabilities with the applicable XBRL tags and a firm example of numbers from the database.

C.If you want to do a semester project,

1) Consider developing an application for XBRL. See the article An Analysis of Student XBRL Project Teams: Value-Adding Educational Experiences Using Emerging Technology Review of Business Information Systems (Summer 2002) with T. Fox, G. Durler,
. Hindi and W. Remington about doing an XBRL application with student teams.

2)Consider using US GAAP and IFRS XBRL tags to transform a company’s US GAAP financial statements into a set of IFRS statements.  Many of the line items will have exact one for one US to IFRS XBRL matches (and accounting treatments) like Cash.  But other line items may have similar XBRL tags, but different accounting treatments like LIFO inventory (which is permitted in US GAAP, but proscribed in IFRS).  Have students create EXCEL spreadsheets with a column about matches and discrepancies.

D.XBRL Taxonomy Short List
The following list addresses a potential issue for professors that the XBRL taxonomy is too big for students to handle. This short list will cover that vast majority of line items in introductory and intermediate textbooks. Using this short list will facilitate creating a XBRL tagged financials and end-of-chapter problems in spreadsheets with XBRL tags. Once tagged the accounts can be used over and over again throughout a textbook in EXCEL spreadsheet exercises. The following list is organized in chart of accounts order (work in progress … suggestions are welcome).

Cash And Cash Equivalents At Carrying Value
Trading Securities
Accounts Receivable Gross
Allowance For Doubtful Accounts Receivable
Accounts Receivable Net
Accrued Investment Income Receivable
Interest Receivable
Loans And Leases Receivable
Inventory Net
Prepaid Expense And Other Assets
Prepaid Insurance
Prepaid Rent
Deferred Tax Assets Gross
Deferred Tax Assets Valuation Allowance
Fixtures And Equipment Gross
Property Plant And Equipment Gross
Accumulated Depreciation Depletion And Amortization
Land Improvements
Available For Sale Securities Debt Securities
Held To Maturity Securities

Capital Leased Assets Gross

Common Stock Par Or Stated Value Per Share
Common Stock Shares Issued
Common Stock Shares Outstanding
Common Stock Value
Treasury Stock
Retained Earnings

Salaries And Wages
Selling General And Administrative Expense
Cost Of Goods Sold
Freight Costs
Manufacturing Costs
Utilities Costs
Marketing And Advertising Expense
Depreciation Depletion And Amortization
General Insurance Expense
Interest Expense
Amortization Of Deferred Charges
Asset Impairment Charges
Other Nonrecurring Income
Gain Loss On Sale Of Investments
Gains Losses On Sales Of Assets
Federal Income Tax Expense
Current Income Tax Expense
Income Loss From Continuing Operations
Earnings Per Share Basic
Earnings Per Share Diluted

Operating Section
Increase Decrease In Accounts And Notes Receivable
Increase Decrease In Accounts Payable
Increase Decrease In Accrued Income Taxes Payable
Increase Decrease In Accrued Liabilities
Increase Decrease In Inventories
Increase Decrease In Notes Receivables
Increase Decrease In Prepaid Expense
Increase Decrease In Prepaid Rent
Increase Decrease In Receivables
Net Cash Provided By Used In Operating Activities
Investing Section
Fair Value Of Assets Acquired
Property Plant And Equipment Disposals
Direct Costs Of Property Or Equipment
Investment In Leases
Net Cash Provided By Used In Investing Activities
Financing Section
Proceeds From Issuance Of Common Stock
Proceeds From Issuance Of Long Term Debt
Proceeds From Notes
Repayment of Notes
Payments Of Dividends
Net Cash Provided By Used In Financing Activities

Footnotes are essential to the understanding of financial line items. Students can learn about the real world context of line items by having them research a company’s line item and associated footnote. See the following example for General Motor’s inventory.
General Motors Balance Sheet December 31, 2012 10K files are at

Current Assets

Inventories 14,714 14,324

Go to the XML file and use control F to search on InventoryPolicy.
Market, which represents selling price less cost to sell, considers general market and economic conditions, periodic reviews of current profitability of vehicles, product warranty costs and the effect of current incentive offers at the balance sheet date. Market for off-lease and other vehicles is current auction sales proceeds less disposal and warranty costs. Productive material, work in process, supplies and service parts are reviewed to determine if inventory quantities are in excess of forecasted usage, or if they have become obsolete.


III.Exam questions are the continual challenge for professors. A lot of questions and exercises are posted on the Internet with answers. So what do you do? Just remember that for a given topic area, there is key core subject material which is limited in nature. So, take a existing multiple choice question (two sample descriptive XBRL questions follow) and 1)re-order the answers 2) change the wrong answers to other statements and 3) re-write the initial problem statement using different dummy names. These steps will keep students from just picking the “right” answer C from a previous exam which they found somewhere.
1)XBRL stands for:
a. XML Business Report Language
b. eXample Basic Report Log
c. XML Business Reporting Link
d. eXtensible Business Reporting Language
e. none of the above

d is correct Easy question

2)Cash and cash equivalents is which data type:
a. string
b. monetary
c. shares
d. token
e. Boolean

b is correct Medium difficulty

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