Both Vanguard and Dimensional Fund Advisors offer quality index funds with low expense ratios which can be used to build an asset allocation portfolio. There has been a recurring debate over which family of index funds performs better. Using data from Google showing returns for comparable DFA and Vanguard funds, you can answer that question for yourself. The table below shows trailing one, three, and five-year returns, YTD return, and the expense ratios for Vanguard and DFA index funds in comparable asset classes.

The fund offerings are not identical. Vanguard offers both U.S. mid-cap blend and U.S. mid-cap value funds, while DFA does not. Conversely, in the international emerging markets category, DFA offers large-cap value and small-cap funds, as wells as, a large-cap fund. DFA also offers a U.S. micro-cap fund, although it has underperformed both Vanguard and DFA’s small-cap blend funds. Vanguard has no corresponding micro-cap fund.

According to the Google data, the trailing total returns for one, three and five years are fairly similar for Vanguard and DFA in each asset class. Looking at the data on the Vanguard and DFA websites, 10-year performance shows some differences with a slight advantage going to to DFA, particularly in the international asset classes.

Here is a link to the same spreadsheet with some additional data, one and four week return and yield (dividends and distributed capital gains).