The body elements support the most common types of content authoring for
topics: paragraphs, lists, phrases, figures, and other common types of exhibits
in a document.
The alt element provides an element equivalent of the alt attribute
on the image element. As an element, it provides direct text entry within
an XML editor and is more easily accessed than an attribute for translation.
The <cite> element is used when you need
a bibliographic citation that refers to a book or article. It specifically
identifies the title of the resource. Its keyref attribute
allows the citation to be associated to other possible bibliographic processing
(not supported yet).
The <desc> element contains the description
of the current element. A description should provide more information than
The definition description (<dd>) element
contains the description of a term in a definition list entry.
The definition descriptions heading (<ddhd>) element contains an optional heading or title for a column of descriptions or definitions in a definition list
A definition list (<dl>) is a list of terms
and corresponding definitions. The term (<dt>) is usually
presented flush left. The description or definition (<dt>)
is usually presented either indented and on the next line, or on the same
line to the right of the term.
In a definition list, each list item is defined by the definition list entry (<dlentry>) element. The definition list entry element includes a term <dt> and one or more definitions or descriptions <dd> of that term.
The <dlhead> element contains optional headings
for the term and description columns in a definition list. The definition
list heading contains a heading <dthd> for the column
of terms and an optional heading <ddhd>for the column
The definition term <dt> element contains
a term in a definition list entry.
The definition term heading (<dthd>) element is contained in a definition list head (<dlhead>) and provides an optional heading for the column of terms in a description list.
The figure (<fig>) element is a display context
(sometimes called an "exhibit") with an optional title for a wide variety
of content. Most commonly, the figure element contains an image element (a
graphic or artwork), but it can contain several kinds of text objects as well.
A title is placed inside the figure element to provide a caption to describe
The <figgroup> element is used only for specialization
at this time. Figure groups can be used to contain multiple cross-references,
footnotes or keywords, but not multipart images. Multipart images in DITA
should be represented by a suitable media type displayed by the <object>
Include artwork or images in a DITA topic by using the <image>
element. The <image> element has optional attributes
that indicate whether the placement of the included graphic or artwork should
be inline (like a button or icon), or on a separate line for a larger image.
An href attribute is required on the image element, as
this attribute creates a pointer to the image, and allows the output formatting
processor to bring the image into the text flow. To make the intent of the
image more accessible for users using screen readers or text-only readers,
always include a description of the image's content in the alt element.
<keyword> represents a word or phrase with
special significance in a particular domain. In the general case, <keyword>
elements typically do not have any special semantics and processing associated
with them, but can still be useful for organizing content for reuse or special
processing. <keyword> specializations are more meaningful
and are therefore preferable. <keyword> in the <keywords>
element distinguishes a word or phrase that describes the content of a topic
(a topic description keyword). Topic description keywords are typically used
for searching, retrieval and classification purposes.
A list (<li>) item is a single item in an ordered <ol> or unordered <ul> list. When a DITA topic is formatted for output, numbers and alpha characters are usually output with list items in ordered lists, while bullets and dashes are usually output with list items in unordered lists.
The <lines> element may be used to represent
dialogs, lists, text fragments, and so forth. The <lines>
element is similar to <pre> in that hard line breaks
are preserved, but the font style is not set to monospace, and extra spaces
inside the lines are not preserved.
The long quote (<lq>) element indicates
content quoted from another source. Use the quote element <q>
for short, inline quotations, and long quote <lq> for
quotations that are too long for inline use, following normal guidelines for
quoting other sources. You can store a URL to the source of the quotation
in the href attribute.
A <note> element contains information, differentiated
from the main text, which expands on or calls attention to a particular point.
DITA's <object> element corresponds to the
HTML <object> element. The <object>
element allows authors to include animated images, applets, plug-ins, ActiveX
controls, video clips, and other multimedia objects in a topic for rendering
after transformation to HTML.
An ordered list (<ol>) is a list of items sorted by sequence or order of importance.
A paragraph element (<p>) is a block of
text containing a single main idea.
The parameter (<param>)element specifies
a set of values that may be required by an <object>
at runtime. Any number of <param> elements may appear
in the content of an object in any order, but must be placed at the start
of the content of the enclosing object. This element is comparable to the
XHMTL <param> element.
The phrase (<ph>) element is used to organize
content for reuse or conditional processing (for example, when part of a paragraph
applies to a particular audience). It can be used by specializations of DITA
to create semantic markup for content at the phrase level, which then allows
(but does not require) specific processing or formatting.
The preformatted element (<pre>) preserves
line breaks and spaces entered manually by the author in the content of the
element, and also presents the content in a monospaced type font (depending
on your output formatting processor). Do not use <pre>
when a more semantically specific element is appropriate, such as <codeblock>.
A quotation element (<q>) indicates content quoted from another source. This element is used for short quotes which are displayed inline. Use the long quote element (<lq>) for quotations that should be set off from the surrounding text.
The simple list (<sl>) element contains a
simple list of items of short, phrase-like content, such as in documenting
the materials in a kit or package.
A simple list item (<sli>) is a single item in a simple list<sl>. Simple list items have phrase or text content, adequate for describing package contents, for example. When a DITA topic is formatted for output, the items of a simple list are placed each on its own line, with no other prefix such as a number (as in an ordered list) or bullet (as in an unordered list).
In an unordered list (<ul>), the order of the list items is not significant. List items are typically styled on output with a "bullet" character, depending on nesting level.
Use the cross-reference (<xref>) element
to link to a different location within the current topic, or a different topic
within the same help system, or to external sources, such as Web pages, or
to a location in another topic. The href attribute
on the <xref> element provides the location of the target.
OASIS DITA Language Specification v1.0 -- 09 May 2005
Copyright (c) OASIS Open 2005. All Rights Reserved.