Reference is a piece of structured information attached to a taxonomy component that provides a link to external information about the element. Conventionally references are used to provide links to the definition of a taxonomy component in authoritative literature, such as the relevant accounting standard or legislation.

This use case uses a draft reference role [] that standardises the application of the reference structure to capture additional structured information about taxonomy components in a key-value pair format.


The use-case specifies meta-data for two areas –  ESG Topic and Disclosure Pillar for taxonomy concepts. ESG Topic can be identified as Environmental, Social or Governance for taxonomy concepts. Similarly, concepts can also be identified based on Disclosure Pillar as Strategy, Implementation or Performance measurement.

Reported sustainability data can then be analysed using this meta-data (“cross-cutting themes”):


Sample Taxonomy / Reports – Taxonomy using reference structure to capture meta-data reports referencing the taxonomy.

Using the meta-data for analysis

XBRL International logo

XBRL International is a global not for profit operating in the public interest. Our purpose is to improve the accountability and transparency of business performance globally, by providing the open data exchange standard for business reporting.