Terminology

Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Version 1.3 Part 1: Base Edition

version
1.3
author
OASIS DITA Technical Committee

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT, "RECOMMEND", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC 2119].

MUST
This word, or the terms "REQUIRED" or "SHALL", mean that the definition is an absolute requirement of the specification.
MUST NOT
This phrase, or the phrase "SHALL NOT", means that the definition is an absolute prohibition of the specification.
SHOULD
This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", means that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
SHOULD NOT
This phrase, or the phrase "NOT RECOMMENDED", means that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances when the particular behavior is acceptable or even useful, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before implementing any behavior described with this label.
MAY
This word, or the adjective "OPTIONAL", means that an item is truly optional. One vendor may choose to include the item because a particular marketplace requires it or because the vendor feels that it enhances the product while another vendor may omit the same item. An implementation which does not include a particular option must be prepared to interoperate with another implementation which does include the option, though perhaps with reduced functionality. In the same vein an implementation which does include a particular option must be prepared to interoperate with another implementation which does not include the option (except, of course, for the feature the option provides).