ID attribute

Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Version 1.3 Part 2: Technical Content Edition

OASIS DITA Technical Committee

The id attribute assigns an identifier to DITA elements so that the elements can be referenced.

The id attribute is available for most elements. An element must have a valid value for the id attribute before it can be referenced using a fragment identifier. The requirements for the id attribute differ depending on whether it is used on a topic element, a map element, or an element within a topic or map.

All values for the id attribute must be XML name tokens.

The id attributes for topic and map elements are declared as XML attribute type ID; therefore, they must be unique with respect to other XML IDs within the XML document that contains the topic or map element. The id attribute for most other elements within topics and maps are not declared to be XML IDs; this means that XML parsers do not require that the values of those attributes be unique. However, the DITA specification requires that all IDs be unique within the context of a topic. For this reason, tools might provide an additional layer of validation to flag violations of this rule.

Within documents that contain multiple topics, the values of the id attribute for all non-topic elements that have the same nearest-ancestor-topic element should be unique with respect to each other. The values of the id attribute for non-topic elements can be the same as non-topic elements with different nearest-ancestor-topic elements. Therefore, within a single DITA document that contains more than one topic, the values of the id attribute of the non-topic elements need only to be unique within each topic.

Within a map document, the values of the id attributes for all elements SHOULD be unique. When two elements within a map have the same value for the id attribute, processors MUST resolve references to that ID to the first element with the given ID value in document order.

Figure. Summary of requirements for the id attribute
Element XML attribute type for id Must be unique within Required?
map ID document No
topic ID document Yes
sub-map (elements nested within a map) NMTOKEN document Usually no, with some exceptions
sub-topic (elements nested within a topic) NMTOKEN individual topic Usually no, with some exceptions
Note: For all elements other than footnote (fn), the presence of a value for the id attribute has no impact on processing. For fn, the presence or absence of a valid id attribute affects how the element is processed. This is important for tools that automatically assign id attributes to all elements.