Topic structure

All topics have the same basic structure, regardless of topic type: title, description, prolog, and body.

All DITA topics must have an ID, a title, and a body. Topic structures can consist of the following parts:
Topic element
Required id attribute, contains all other elements
The subject of the topic.
Alternate titles
Titles specifically for use in navigation or search. When not provided, the base title is used for all contexts.
Short description
A short description of the topic. Used both in topic content, in generated summaries that include the topic, and in links to the topic. While short descriptions aren't required, they can make a dramatic difference to the usability of an information set, and should generally be provided for all topics.
Container for various kinds of topic metadata, such as change history, audience, product, and so on.
The actual topic content: paragraphs, lists, sections - whatever the information type allows.
Related links
Links to other topics. When an author creates a link as part of a topic, the topic becomes dependent on the other topic being available. To reduce dependencies between topics and thereby increase the reusability of each topic, authors can use DITA maps to define and manage links between topics, instead of embedding links directly in each related topic.
Nested topics
Topics can be defined inside other topics. Nesting can result in complex documents that are less usable and less reusable, and should be used carefully. It is more often appropriate for reference information, which can support longer documents organized into multiple topics for scanning and retrieval.

OASIS DITA Architectural Specification v1.0 -- 09 May 2005
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