The quality of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy is less than optimal. Complete and accurate reporting is necessary to enable readers to assess the potential for bias in the study and to evaluate the generalisability of the results. A group of scientists and editors has developed the STARD (Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy) statement to improve the reporting the quality of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy. The statement consists of a checklist of 25 items and flow diagram that authors can use to ensure that all relevant information is present. This explanatory document aims to facilitate the use, understanding and dissemination of the checklist. The document contains a clarification of the meaning, rationale and optimal use of each item on the checklist, as well as a short summary of the available evidence on bias and applicability. The STARD statement, checklist, flowchart and this explanation and elaboration document should be useful resources to improve reporting of diagnostic accuracy studies. Complete and informative reporting can only lead to better decisions in healthcare.