The <reference> element defines a top-level container for a reference topic. Reference topics document programming constructs or facts about a product. Examples of reference topics include language elements, class descriptions, commands, functions, statements, protocols, types, declarators, operands, and API information, which provide quick access to facts, but no explanation of concepts or procedures. Reference topics have the same high-level structure as any other topic type, with a title, short description, and body. Within the body, reference topics are typically organized into one or more sections, property lists, and tables. The reference topic type provides general rules that apply to all kinds of reference information, using elements like <refsyn> for syntax or signatures, and <properties> for lists of properties and values.


(title then (titlealts) (optional) then (shortdesc) (optional) then (prolog) (optional) then (refbody) (optional) then (related-links) (optional) then (topic or concept or task or reference) (any number) )

Contained by

dita, topic, concept, task, reference


topic/topic, reference/reference


Name Description Data Type Default Value Required?
id An anchor point. This ID is the target for references by href and conref attributes, and for external applications that refer to DITA content. ID #IMPLIED No
conref This attribute is used to reference an ID on a topic that can be reused. For example, you could create a series of topics in a compound (dita) or nested context for authoring convenience and then reference each topic individually into a new target location. During output processing, a lookup process will pull the contents of the first topic into the calling topic markup that has the conref attribute.

The conref value follows the same conventions as HTML for normal file links. To refer to target content in a different file, put the full URL of that topic before the # character.

Target elsewhere in the same file: 
First topic in different file: 
Specific topic in different file: 
%select-atts; (platform, product, audience, otherprops, importance, rev, status) A set of related attributes, described at %select-atts; parameter entity PE not applicable Not applicable
xml:lang Specifies the language of the element content. When no xml:lang value is supplied, the default value of English is assumed. For example, if there is a note element with the attribute xml:lang set to the value "es-es," then the label on the note, which is normally output as "Note" is now output in Spanish as "Nota." The allowed xml:lang values are based on ISO-3166 Country Codes and RFC 3066 Language Codes (see W3C: Language tagging in HTML and XML). NMTOKEN #IMPLIED No
DITAArchVersion Designates the version of the architecture that is in use. CDATA "1.0" (version dependent; will increase) Yes
domains Indicates the specialized domains that are included in the DTD. CDATA ui-d hi-d pr-d sw-d No
%global-atts; (xtrf, xtrc) A set of related attributes, described at %global-atts; parameter entity PE not applicable Not applicable
class, outputclass Common attributes described in Other common DITA attributes


<reference id="refexample">
 <title>A reference topic/title>
  <refsyn>Describe command or api syntax here, possibly
  using &lt;synph> or &lt;syntax> markup for explicit 
  definition of syntax or prototype construction.
   <title>Some section title</title>

OASIS DITA Language Specification v1.0 -- 09 May 2005
Copyright (c) OASIS Open 2005. All Rights Reserved.