The <glossentry> element defines a single sense of a glossary term. Glossary entries for different term senses can be reused independently of one another. DITA 1.2 adds several elements to the glossentry topic type, allowing it to specify additional information about a term (beyond just the definition).

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.


Note: These models represent only the default document types distributed by OASIS. Actual content models will differ with each new document type.
Doctype Content model
ditabase, glossary, glossentry, glossgroup ( (glossterm) then (glossdef) (optional) then (prolog) (optional) then (glossBody) (optional) then (related-links) (optional) then (no-topic-nesting) (any number) )

Contained by

Doctype Content model
ditabase dita, topic, concept, task, reference, glossgroup
glossgroup glossgroup


- 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>


Name Description Data Type Default Value Required?
id This ID enables topics to be referenced uniquely by topicrefs in DITA maps. ID Yes
conref-atts attribute group (conref, conrefend, conaction, conkeyref) A set of related attributes; includes all of the attributes described in id-atts attribute group except for the id attribute.      
xmlns:ditaarch Declares the default DITA namespace.   "http://dita.​oasis-open.​org/​architecture/​2005/"  
DITAArchVersion Designates the version of the architecture that is in use. The default value will increase with each release of DITA. CDATA "1.2" No
domains Indicates the specialized domains that are included in the DTD or Schema. This value will differ depending on what domains are included in the current DTD or Schema. CDATA Varies based on the DTD or Schema; a sample value is "(topic ui-d) (topic hi-d) (topic pr-d) (topic sw-d) (topic ut-d) (topic indexing-d)" No
select-atts attribute group (props, base, platform, product, audience, otherprops, importance, rev, status) A set of related attributes, described in select-atts attribute group      
localization-atts attribute group (translate, xml:lang, dir) A set of related attributes, described in localization-atts attribute group.      
global-atts attribute group (xtrf, xtrc) A set of related attributes, described in global-atts attribute group      
class, outputclass Common attributes described in Other common DITA attributes      

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OASIS DITA Version 1.2 -- OASIS Standard, 1 December 2010
Copyright © OASIS Open 2005, 2010. All Rights Reserved.