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A desire to help investors choose funds based on what they really own – instead of on what funds call themselves, how they classify themselves, or how they’ve performed recently – was precisely what inspired Morningstar to develop its Investment Style Box in the early 1990s.

The Style Box provides a quick visual summary of a given fund’s portfolio, showing you, using a nine-box investment-style grid, where most of your fund’s portfolio is invested.

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While you don’t need to own a fund from every square of the Style Box, the tool can provide guidance on portfolio composition. If all of your funds are huddled in a single corner of the Style Box, that’s a tip-off that you’ll probably want to spread your money around more by selecting investments that fall into different Style Boxes.

Jemma Everyday Wisdom: It’s important to know your goals, your needs, and your tolerance for risk. Once you have a good understanding of these factors, Morningstar’s Style Box can help you determine how the fund is invested.

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