Discovering Relationships between Revenue Facts

I recently came across the following XBRL question on Stack Overflow:

How can we know beforehand the number of names that can a business fact in XBRL receive on XBRL instance documents?

For example if we want to find the Revenue of companies by looking into XBRL instances for this business fact alone we can meet different names for this same fact as:

us-gaap:Revenues

us-gaap:SalesRevenue

us-gaap:SalesRevenueNet

The target is to find out a finite amount of names that every business fact can receive and then for every business fact loop all these names until we fine the one that is in the instance document.

is there a lexicon if you will where it has all of these names into one file? This is a theoretical question but requires technical expertise.

And most importantly since there are many lookalike names for a business fact can a name in one XBRL instance mean one fact and on the other instance document mean another business fact?

After a bit of prodding, I discovered that the root question was “why is revenue represented by many different facts in the taxonomy?”

The elements are different because they refer to different things. The SalesRevenueNet element is defined as follows:

Total revenue from sale of goods and services rendered during the reporting period, in the normal course of business, reduced by sales returns and allowances, and sales discounts.

The Revenues element is defined as follows:

Amount of revenue recognized from goods sold, services rendered, insurance premiums, or other activities that constitute an earning process. Includes, but is not limited to, investment and interest income before deduction of interest expense when recognized as a component of revenue, and sales and trading gain (loss).

(I can’t find an element in the US GAAP taxonomy named SalesRevenue, so I can’t comment on that one.)

The SalesRevenueNet element is a value summed from other elements, including Sales Revenue, Goods, Net, Shipping and Handling Revenue, Sales Revenue, Shipping, Net, and several other elements. The SalesRevenueNet element is, in turn, an item in the summation of the Revenues element, which also includes elements such as Financial Services Revenue. In algebraic terms, the calculation of the SalesRevenueNet item looks like this:

SalesRevenueNet = SalesRevenueGoodsNet + ShippingAndHandlingRevenue + ... 

The calculation of the Revenue item looks like this:

Revenue = SalesRevenueNet + FinancialServicesRevenue 

The XBRL Taxonomy Viewer is a helpful tool for providing a better view into some of these relationships. To see more, start the Taxonomy Viewer and do the following:

  1. When the XBRL Taxonomy Viewer is first launched, an “Open Taxonomy” dialog will appear. The dialog will contain a tree view listing all of the taxonomies supported by the viewer. The root of the tree is a folder labeled “XBRL US Public”, and one of the nodes beneath the root node is called “SEC Approved Taxonomies”.
  2. Expand the “SEC Approved Taxonomies” node, if it is not already expanded. Several child nodes will be listed, and one of the child nodes is labeled “2013 US GAAP Taxonomy (2013-01-31)”.
  3. Expand the “2013 US GAAP Taxonomy (2013-01-31)” node, if it is not already expanded. Several child nodes will be listed, and one of the child nodes is labeled “All Taxonomies”.
  4. Select the “All Taxonomies” node and click the “Open” button. The site will refresh with information about the taxonomy you have selected.
  5. At the bottom of the page, in the “Search” tab of the “Tools” pane, type in the name of an element (such as SalesRevenueNet) and click the “Search” button.
  6. Click on the element name in the Search Results list. After a bit of time, the pane in the upper right will refresh with information about the element you selected, such as labels, references, and calculation information.
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