SEC EDGAR File Formats

Documents may currently be submitted to the SEC via the EDGAR system in HTML, ASCII, PDF or XBRL format.


  • PDF documents are accepted but considered "unofficial" submissions. All PDF documents must be submitted alongside their HTML or ASCII counterpart.

  • XBRL documents are generally filed alongside official HTML counterparts.


HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. This is the language understood by software used to browse the web. HTML uses a series of defined tags to relay display instructions to the browser. While most web documents currently make use of the HTML version 4.0 standard, the SEC only accepts HTML documents formatted using the HTML version 3.2 standard (with a few exceptions). As most HTML converters convert parent documents (i.e. MS Word, Excel, etc) to the HTML 4.0 standard, this creates challenges when creating EDGAR compliant HTML documents. View an example of an HTML formatted EDGAR document >>


This abbreviation stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a binary code used by the computer to represent characters. An EDGAR filing formatted using ASCII will contain characters and spaces only; formatting such as bolding, underlining, and italics are not permitted. View an example of an ASCII formatted EDGAR document >>


PDF stands for Portable Document Format and is a proprietary standard - set forth by the Adobe Corporation - for conveying graphic/multi-media-intensive document information across multiple platforms. Documents in PDF format are usually viewed using the Adobe Acrobat Reader. EDGAR accepts documents in PDF format as unofficial copies of documents contained in the submission. The unofficial PDF document must be filed with its official counterpart (HTML or ASCII). If you wish to file a PDF version later, it must accompany an amendment of the official filing. The only exception to this is when filing a non-public correspondence document for an SEC examiner. The redlined PDF alone may be sent in the “CORRESP” document or submission.


XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is an emerging XML-based standard to define and exchange business and financial performance information. XBRL data is considered interactive, which means it can be presented to investors and analysts quickly in a format they can most easily use. Interactive data pinpoints all of the facts and figures trapped in dense documents, allowing the reader to immediately pull out exactly the information they want, and instantly compare it to the results of other companies, performance in past years, industry averages - however the reader wishes to slice and dice the data. XBRL is now required as part of certain filings, including forms 10-Q and 10-K. For more information and related FAQs, visit our page on SEC XBRL.


How is HTML different than ASCII?

HTML is "format rich," allowing formatting not available in ASCII; for example, it allows bold, italic and underlined type, font selection, type size, etc. ASCII is a mono-spaced font allowing none of the above formatting options. HTML will allow the EDGAR submission to more closely resemble the printed version of the document.

Which one should I use?

If your documents contain graphics (e.g. pictures, charts, logos, diagrams, etc.) that must be displayed then you should be filing in HTML. Due to their more professional look and feel, HTML documents can be a useful tool in investor relations. If your documents need to be converted to HTML for posting on a company website you could ultimately save money by choosing HTML for EDGAR filing.

Can I file PDF documents to the SEC?

Yes. However, PDF documents are considered "unofficial" submissions. All PDF documents must be submitted alongside their HTML or ASCII counterpart.

How can I format documents to aid in the EDGARization process?

Parent documents (i.e. MS Word, Excel, etc) convert to SEC HTML and ASCII formats much more accurately if the parent document has been formatted using the appropriate functions. This is due to inherent limitations within HTML and basic differences between the way HTML files are rendered vs. how they are rendered in parent documents. By keeping these considerations in mind when creating your documents, you ultimately save time on our end for manually repairing problems that could have been avoided, and save money. Please visit our section titled formatting guidelines for tips on now to optimize your documents.

Why can’t I just use the "save as .html" option in Microsoft Word and file that on the EDGAR system?

When you this option in Microsoft Word the resulting file is compliant with HTML 4.0. Note that although the HTML produced by Word 2000 and above looks similar to the source document, this is done by using HTML tags that are not permissible in SEC filings. The restricted version of HTML permitted in filings precludes many formatting features; any documents submitted to EDGAR using the HTML 4.0 standard will be rejected.

Why does my document filed in HTML not look the same as my document printed from its original format?

When converting from Microsoft Word (or most other word processors) to HTML, the document cannot be made to appear exactly the same as it did in the source word processor. This is because HTML does not support all the formatting and layout functions that word processors do. And the SEC/EDGAR-II flavour or HTML is even more restrictive in the kinds of formatting that can be implemented. Some common discrepancies that cannot be avoided are:

  • HTML display is sized to the user's screen, and does not conform to the margin settings of the source document. Therefore, lines wrap differently from the source document. Some lines may break at unintended locations, depending on the size of the user's browser window. Also, centered and right-flush text will not always appear in the same locations as in the source document.

  • Whereas the source document is arranged in pages, the concept of a page break in an HTML document is contrary to the mechanics of HTML; page number references do not have a meaning in the HTML file. We are able to optimize the document for printing however, such that if it were printed through a browser the pages would align with the source document. Due to the size of some pages and tables though, this isn't always possible to achieve on every page.

  • Some functions, such as dot leader tabs, are not supported in HTML. There is no way to represent them.

  • The font metrics used by the user's browser may not be the same as in the source document, causing differences in spacing.

  • Only a limited number of fonts can be used in a document. This is because those viewing the document must have the font installed on their computer to see it. There are some fonts that are installed on most computers by default (along with the Windows or Mac O/S) and can be used reliably. These include Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana. Newsfile Corp. will always use the Times New Roman font in its EDGAR documents unless otherwise instructed by the client.

  • Certain kinds of table border structures are not easily displayed using SEC compliant HTML code. Laddered or "stepped" tables aren't easily represented, nor are borders around a single table cell.


Visit our page on SEC XBRL.