This document is a review draft. Readers are invited to submit comments to the Taxonomy Architecture Guidance Task Force.


  • Revathy Ramanan, XBRL International Inc.
  • Ben Russell, CoreFiling
  • Paul Warren, XBRL International Inc.
  • Andie Wood, Workiva


  • Paul Hulst, De Nederlandsche Bank
  • Joel Vicente, CoreFiling

Table of Contents

1 Abstract

A taxonomy component can be assigned multiple labels of different types and in different languages. At a technical level, each type of label is differentiated by a label role. XBRL label roles are used to assign a specific meaning to a label. The XBRL specification provides a default label type known as the "Standard Label". This is used as the default label for the component.

This guidance focuses on the general use of label roles and provides specific recommendations on the use of the label roles provided in the XBRL Standard for taxonomy elements. Specific recommendations on use of the standard label role are available in 'Taxonomy labelling and how to create good standard labels'.

The target audience for this guidance on label roles is taxonomy architects and taxonomy authors.

2 How label roles are used

Labels defined using different label roles are used for a number of different purposes, which are described below.

2.1 Providing more information about taxonomy components

In order to give a more complete definition of a taxonomy component, multiple labels can be provided. The way in which these should be understood is indicated by the type of the label. The taxonomy does not explicitly describe where and how these types of labels should be displayed.

An example of providing more information is to add a documentation label. In one taxonomy, the concept with standard label 'Profit (loss) on ordinary activities after tax' has a documentation label that states 'Typically only required when an extraordinary profit or loss is reported'.

2.2 Controlling the presentation of taxonomy elements

The presentation tree has a mechanism (known as the preferred label mechanism) to show different labels for the same element at different points in the tree.

In the example below, the same concept is used to give the balance at the beginning and the end of a period. A "period start label" and "period end label" are assigned to the concept and marked as the preferred label in the appropriate locations in the presentation tree. The standard label for the concept is "Property, plant and equipment".

  • Property, plant and equipment at beginning of period (period start label)
  • Increase (decrease) in property, plant and equipment
    • Additions, property, plant and equipment
    • Depreciation, property, plant and equipment
    • Decrease, property, plant and equipment
  • Property, plant and equipment at end of period (period end label)

2.3 Controlling the presentation of values

When XBRL reports are being shown according to a taxonomy's presentation tree, it may be necessary to select different values for a concept, or present the value with a different sign, based on its location within the tree. The preferred label mechanism can be used to achieve this. For example, by selecting period start and period end labels using the preferred label mechanism shown above, it is also possible to select the appropriate current period or prior period value for a concept when displaying an XBRL report.

2.4 Enabling label selection based on the sign of reported values

The naming conventions of some taxonomy concepts may change depending on the sign of the reported value. For example, in the case of the concept 'Profit (loss)', if the value is positive it may be referred to simply as 'Profit' and if it is negative it is referred to as 'Loss'. Specific labels to be displayed in such cases can be defined.

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