The <glossentry> element defines a single sense of a glossary term. Glossary entries for different term senses can be reused independently of one another.

The recommended (but not required) book processing is to sort and group glossary entries based on the localized term so a back-of-the-book glossary can contain a collated list of terms with the definitions of the individual senses of each term indented under the term. The glossary can have a different organization in different languages depending on the translation of the terms. One possible implementation of a glossary in online processing is to associate a hotspot for mentions of terms in <term> elements and display the definition on hover or click.

Content models

See appendix for information about this element in OASIS document type shells.


- topic/topic concept/concept glossentry/glossentry


Figure 1. The glossary term "USB flash drive" with additional information
<glossentry id="usbfd">
  <glossterm>USB flash drive</glossterm>
  <glossdef>A small portable drive.</glossdef>
    <glossPartOfSpeech value="noun"/>
    <glossUsage>Do not provide in upper case (as in "USB Flash
Drive") because that suggests a trademark.</glossUsage>
      <glossUsage>Explain the acronym on first occurrence.</glossUsage>
    <glossAlt id="memoryStick">
      <glossSynonym>memory stick</glossSynonym>
      <glossUsage>This is a colloquial term.</glossUsage>
      <glossStatus value="prohibited"/>
      <glossUsage>This is too colloquial.</glossUsage>
      <glossAlternateFor href="#usbfd/memoryStick"/>
      <glossStatus value="prohibited"/>
      <glossUsage>This short form is ambiguous.</glossUsage>


The following attributes are available on this element: Universal attribute group (with a narrowed definition of @id, given below), Architectural attribute group, and outputclass.

An anchor point. This ID is usually required as part of the @href or @conref syntax when cross referencing or reusing content within the topic; it also enables <topicref> elements in DITA maps to optionally reference a specific topic within a DITA document. This attribute is defined with the XML Data Type ID.

Return to main page.