Data tagging, in formats like XBRL or “eXtensible Business Reporting Language,” is gaining popularity as a way to enhance financial reporting.
By using computer codes to "tag" different kinds of data in financial reports, the information companies file with the Commission can be made much easier to find and analyze. For example, specific items in a financial statement, such as net income or gross sales, are given computer-readable labels. At the same time, the task of preparing the reports can be automated for the companies who file them.
Interactive data relies on standard definitions to "tag" various kinds of information, turning SEC financial reports that have previously been text-only into documents that can be retrieved through computer searches, and analyzed in a variety of spreadsheet programs and analytical software. The data can also be more readily used to compare companies’ financial performance, and better identify “outliers” that could represent attractive investment opportunities – or increased risk of misstatements or fraud.