This article details the kinds of unwanted results you might find in the SEC XBRL Viewer, and what you can do about changing these results.

Understanding Special Terms

Here are some special terms that are helpful to know:

  • Viewer refers to the SEC Previewer or SEC Viewer.

  • Context is the report date, along with the [Axis] + [Member] combination, that are applied to particular facts.

  • Simple Context is the specific combination of a report date plus the absence of any explicit [Member] item and use of the [Domain], that is applied to particular facts. The SEC Viewer interprets any combination that same way.

  • Note is a footnote or disclosure note.

Controlling Total Location

How do I control where a total appears?

A total appears at the top of a list of figures rather than at the bottom of this list. Your tags are sequenced in the XBRL outline as you wish them to be ordered, but still the total appears at top. The image below shows a segment reporting disclosure where the tag used for the total appears as the last line item.

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And yet, that last item appears above the Revenue from external customers.

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The list of figures that contribute to the total are tagged with an explicit [Member], whereas the total is tagged with a Simple Context.

The Viewer groups facts together based on the context. The total, when tagged with the Simple Context, is with the first group of facts. The details, tagged with explicit [Member] items, are below it. There is no way to adjust this without changing the design of your XBRL [Table] describing those facts.

Managing XBRL "Noise"

Why do facts from a disclosure note appear on the Viewer’s presentation of a face statement?

XBRL facts are reported as an aggregation of facts. They do not contain information that indicates where they originated in the financial report e.g., from the balance sheet, the fair value Note, etc. The Viewer filters through this aggregation of facts, and determines which facts should be shown with regard to presenting a particular section of the XBRL outline. It is because the unwanted facts (originating in the disclosure) are tagged with the same line item concept as used on a face statement that they appear on that statement. This behavior is commonly called "bleed-through" or “noise.”

You can test for this by first examining the results of Method-1 and comparing them with the results of Method-2 or Method-3. You are observing bleed-through if Method-1 excludes those unwanted facts, and Method-2 or Method-3 includes them. See an explanation of these three methods for reviewing your documents in the article SEC XBRL Viewer.

Your only possible resolution would be to change the concept used to tag the facts either on the face statement or in the Note. We recommend this change only when the items in the Note can be represented by a more specific tag located in the taxonomy than the one on the face statement.This is not a compliance problem, so we do not recommend making such a change when you are close to your filing deadline. This is an improvement to your XBRL that you may leave for the subsequent quarter.

Achieving Desired Column Location

In a set of facts tagged with a set of related [Member] items and a [Domain], the facts associated with the [Domain] do not appear in the desired column location (it appears in the leftmost column when it is desired in the rightmost). Why?

You should not attempt to move the [Domain] in the XBRL outline in order to control the column order with regard to the facts tagged with the [Domain]. Some filers have moved the [Domain] to be the last child of an [Axis] in order to have certain facts appear in the rightmost column. This creates a compliance violation because it causes your XBRL outline to violate the strictly defined pattern for an XBRL [Axis]. As noted above, the order of the columns is not a compliance issue.

How do I correct the order of columns?

With regards to dates, a column appears out of the desired order. In the following example, this company’s income statement sequences their reporting dates from left to right with the right being the current reporting period.

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The Viewer, instead shows the columns in the reverse order. What can I do about this?

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You cannot control the column order with regard to dates. What you can and must do is make sure your labels are not dependent on the column order. As you can see in the above example, the parenthetical content is miscommunicated in the Viewer because the label caption relies on a particular order (2010 then 2011) whereas the View shows then in the reverse order (2011 then 2010).

Why does the shares ending balance appear in a separate column in a stock options roll forward?

We have no logical explanation for this, as this behavior is unlike the behavior from other roll forward examples. We have not discovered a way to modify this behavior.

Handling Duplicate Concepts

Why do my facts not appear in two locations with a concept that appears twice?

I have a concept that appears twice in an XBRL outline subsection. Yet only some of the facts for that concept are shown at both locations.

The Viewer filters out the duplicate presentations of the same fact. If the fact is shown at one location but fails to show at the other, this is an irresolvable behavior.

Handling Shown In Values

Why are values shown in ones rather than thousands or millions?

For any particular XBRL outline subsection, the Viewer reports all the facts associated with each unit of measure in the same multiple. For example, all USD in multiples of thousands. The multiple is set to be that of the most precise fact reported with the unit of measure. For example, if just one fact is shown with its accuracy to ones, then all facts of that same unit shall be shown at that multiple, too.

Consider using the XBRL/EDGAR Previewer to display the decimals of all facts in that note to see if any stand out as incorrectly tagged with an accuracy that exceeds the true accuracy of the fact (e.g., an accuracy of -3 or thousands when it should be -6 or millions).

Issues with Customizing Labels

Why are you unable customize line item concept labels when combined with a particular [Member]?

A line item concept’s label will not vary based on how it is combined with a particular [Member]. A common request is that earnings per share should have one line item concept label for one class of stock, and a different label for another class of stock. Instead, you must create a single label whose caption is suitable for all of the [Member] items. This may cause some very long labels when reporting parenthetical information in a label.

Ordering XBRL Sections

Why are XBRL sections presented out of order or appear as Uncategorized after using Method 3?

The XBRL subsections should appear on the Viewer in the following order:

  1. Document and entity information

  2. Financial statements and parenthetical disclosures

  3. Notes to the financial statements

  4. Significant accounting policies

  5. Table text blocks

  6. Detail tagged information

The following table, from SEC's Staff Interpretations and FAQs Related to Interactive Data Disclosure, shows the standard headings in the SEC Previewer navigation column and the XBRL outline subsections that appear under each of the standard headings. If the XBRL outline subsections are in a different order, they may inadvertently appear under the Uncategorized heading. For example, if Policy appears after Table, all groups after Policy will appear under the Uncategorized heading. Using the plural form in a presentation group name, for example Statements or Policies, will not affect whether the group appears under its designated standard heading.

Standard heading appearing in rendering navigation structure Standard heading will contain these presentation groups Examples
Cover Any group appearing before the first group name containing the words Statement or Parenthetical Document and Entity Information
Financial Statements Any group name containing the words Statement or Parenthetical Statement of Income Statement of Income (Parentheticals)
Notes to Financial Statements Any group name not containing the words Statement or Parenthetical Inventories Income Taxes
Accounting Policies Any group name containing the word Policy and not containing the words Statement or Parenthetical Inventory (Policy) Income Tax (Policy)
Notes Tables Any group name containing the word Table and not containing the words Statement or Parenthetical Inventories (Tables) Income Taxes (Tables)
Notes Details Any group name containing the word Detail and not containing the words Statement or Parenthetical Inventories (Details) Income Taxes (Details)
Uncategorized Any group appearing after the groups listed above
All Reports All presentation groups

See question B.13 of SEC Staff Interpretations. Also see the Help article Editing XBRL Outline Subsections.

Why does a roll forward appear in three columns rather than one?

The Viewer relies on a very specific pattern in the XBRL Outline in order to identify and present a roll forward in a single column.

Handling Uncategorized Items

What should I do if I have uncategorized items?

Check to make sure all validation errors are cleared. Check label roles and dates for inconsistencies. Also check the outline structure.