ABSTRACT: This study examines the effects of financial reporting complexity on investors’ trading behavior. I find that more complex (longer and less readable) filings are associated with lower overall trading, and that this relationship appears due to a reduction in small investors’ trading activity. Additional evidence suggests that the association between report complexity and lower abnormal trading is driven by both cross-sectional variation in firms’ disclosure attributes and variations in disclosure complexity over time. Given regulatory concerns over plain English disclosures and the trend toward more disclosure, my investigation into the effects of reporting complexity on small and large investors should be of interest to regulators concerned with reporting clarity and leveling the playing field across classes of investors.

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