Adding links between documents
This article outlines general guidelines for data preparers who want to add links between the primary sustainability report and other supplied documents.
Corporate reporting of sustainability data provides information to data consumers that they can use for their analyses. The data provided in the sustainability report should be as useful as possible. This can mean that if some data is more detailed in another document, the data preparer should link to that data.
When linking to useful or supplementary information in paper and digital documents, such as a PDF document, the link is often a written link or a cross-reference. As the corporate reporting system becomes digitised, digital links between documents become available which increases the usability and accessibility of the linked information.
The digital links can provide linking to:
- Structured digital documents within an official mechanism, for example, XBRL reports.
- Structured digital documents or information on a website.
- Specific pages on a website or non-structured digital documents on a website.
- Non-structured digital documents within an official mechanism.
For example, a digital file within a business register or securities register.
Before adding links between the primary document and other documents, data preparers should consider:
- Should the data be added to the primary document or linked to a source document?
If the data is material or legally required, data preparers should add the data to the primary document.
- Is the linked information useful?
Only link to other documents if the linked data is useful and needed.
- Does the linked data have a time frame and quality consistent with the primary document?
If the data linked is of a different time frame than the primary document, then the linked data may not be useful.
- Are there additional steps that data consumers must take to access the linked document?
Avoid linking to documents that are difficult to access. For example, avoid linking to documents published behind a paywall, require a registration, or have a different timetable.
When adding links from the primary document to a source document, data preparers must consider which type of file is the most efficient to link to:
- Link to documents that are published within an official mechanism.
Linking to a document available within an official mechanism ensures the source of the linked document is trustworthy and dependable.
- Link to digital documents, not to paper documents.
Link to digital documents by adding hyperlinks that can be used by data consumers and verified by machines during the validation process.
- Link to structured digital documents.
Data preparers should link to structured digital documents whenever possible. This allows data preparers to point directly to a single item of information. For example, when linking to an XBRL report, it is possible to link directly to a report fact.
- Be specific when linking to non-structured digital and paper documents.
When the linked document is a non-structured digital file or a paper document, data preparers should add a description of the data location. For example, when linking to a PDF document, the link should have an additional description of where to find the data.
Data preparers should also consider what format links should take, using the following guidelines:
- Read and obey the regulatory requirements and restrictions described in the filing manual published by regulators.
- Link to documents that have been audited.
Documents that are not audited and are linked will need to be audited together with the original document. It is not recommended to link to unaudited documents.
- Incorporating the data into the report instead of linking to it.
Linking to old non-structured digital documents or cross-referencing to paper documents is imprecise and inefficient. If it is possible, incorporate the data into the report instead of referencing the data.
- Be precise when pointing to a particular item of data.
Give extra disclosure information to explain the purpose and importance of having the link.