Vanguard uses a 9-box grid called a style box to illustrate how our bond fund holdings are distributed by credit quality and average maturity. Credit quality is a measure of a bond issuer's ability to pay interest and repay principal in a timely manner. Quality ranges from Treasury bonds or agency bonds (generally the highest quality issues), investment-grade corporate (medium to high quality), and below investment grade. Average maturity is the length of time until the bonds in the fund are due to be repaid. Maturities are classified as short, intermediate, or long-term.
Knowing a fund's investment style can help you understand how it might fit in your portfolio. This information can also help you build a portfolio that's broadly diversified across markets and less susceptible to sharp swings in any one market area.
Investments in bonds are subject to interest rate, credit, and inflation risk.