Section Nine: Glossary of Terms

From the XBRL 1.0 Specification:

element An XML element, but also a "fact" or piece of information described by this taxonomy.  For example, the element with the name “nonCurrentAssets. propertyPlantAndEquipmentNet” is an element.
instance document An XML document containing XBRL elements.  The financial statements of a Company or any part thereof, expressed in XBRL, would be an instance document as would an HTML file that had various XBRL items embedded in it.
taxonomy An XML Schema that defines new elements each corresponding to a concept that can be referenced in XBRL documents.  The taxonomy is a classification system for business and financial reporting data elements.  XBRL taxonomies can be regarded as extensions of XML Schema. 
element names Element names consist of two parts separated by a period using camel case conventions of 80 characters total or less.  The logic for creating element names in this manner is discussed in the XBRL Specification dated 2000-07-31.  For example, “balanceSheet.assets” is an element name.

Articles for further Study: 

US Taxonomy, US GAAP, July 31, 2000, edited by Sergio de la Fe, Jr. CPA, KPMG LLP, Charles Hoffman, CPA, XBRL Solutions, Inc.,Elmer Huh, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.   Includes complete introduction, purpose, terminology, updates, and links to taxonomy files in MS Word and Acrobat file formats.

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Copyright 2008 Saeed Roohani, XBRL Education