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Negative Values

July 20, 2017

Some filers continue to inappropriately submit XBRL numeric disclosures as negative values.  Most XBRL numeric elements are designed to be entered as positive values because they are designed from the perspective of the income statement and balance sheet.  Even if the XBRL element is related to a credit balance, the element should still be submitted as positive numbers because debit and credit balances represent presentation attributes for the HTML document, not the underlying meaning of the XBRL element.  Moreover, by appropriately submitting XBRL numeric disclosures as positive values, filers can ensure the accuracy of their calculation relationships.  For example, accumulated depreciation, depletion, and amortization for property plant and equipment should be entered as a positive value even though it represents a credit balance.   

Filers should first decide whether to enter an amount as a positive or negative value based on the meaning of the particular element, most significantly its documentation text and its debit/credit balance attributes. To display a negative value in the EDGAR renderer, filers can change the amount rendered within brackets by negating the label in the presentation link base. Conversely, if an amount is entered as a positive value, it will render without brackets. 

For more information on negative values, see EFM 6.6.30 and 6.11.6. In addition, all “Staff Observations From Review of Interactive Data Financial Statements” have a section that addresses negative values.  Those staff observations can be referenced at https://www.sec.gov/page/osdstaffobsandguide.