DITA topics support two types of tables. The <table> element uses the OASIS Exchange Table Model (formerly known as the CALS table model). The OASIS table supports the spanning of multiple rows or columns for special layout or organizational needs, and provides a wide variety of controls over the display properties of the data and even the table structure itself.
The other table structure in DITA is called <simpletable>. As the name implies, it is structurally less complex than the OASIS table, and can be used as a very simple, regular table for which close control of formatting is not as important. The main advantage of simpletable is for describing lists of data with regular headings, such as telephone directory listings, display adapter configuration data, or API properties.
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OASIS DITA Version 1.2 -- OASIS Standard, 1 December 2010
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