What does "topline issue" mean in a business and other context that neither refer to gross sales or revenue, nor allude to anything related to a company's income statement?

Normal definition

A reference to the gross sales or revenues of a company, or an allusion to a course of action that increases or reduces revenues. The "top" reference relates to the fact that on a company's income statement, the first line at the top of the page is generally reserved for gross sales or revenue. A company that increases its revenues is said to be "growing its top line", or "generating top-line growth".

This contrasts with net income (or net earnings per share), which is usually the bottom line of the company's income statement.

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    can you provide some reference? where you read that? – Java D Aug 30 '13 at 5:53
  • I added the definition found in investment since I assume you mean other uses than that. For example The upper curvature of a horse's withers, back, and loin; Principal billing; To be billed as the primary entertainer at (an event). – mplungjan Aug 30 '13 at 6:27
  • Thank you. In fact, I'm facing difficulty understanding the meaning due to a lack of context. The sentence I have encountered is: "What is the topline issue?" – user48754 Aug 31 '13 at 16:30

The usual context of use of the term topline issue is in discussion of problems or actions that affect gross sales or revenues of a company. A typical topline issue is a problem or concern that will reduce sales or revenue. For example, increased production costs are not a topline issue as such; they will reduce profits but will not directly affect gross revenue. Production shortfall, on the other hand, would be a topline issue if sales decline because product isn't available to be sold.

I don't know of any relevant meaning for the phrase in a “context that neither refers to gross sales or revenue, nor alludes to anything related to a company's income statement”.


Given the nature of the phrase, "Topline" in any situation will likely mean "the most important issue at hand".

From dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/topline



  1. so important as to be named at or near the top of a newspaper item, advertisement, or the like: a topline actress; topline news.
  2. of the highest reputation, importance, etc.: a topline business firm.

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