Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Version 1.3 Part 3: All-Inclusive Edition

OASIS DITA Technical Committee

A dl element is a list of terms and corresponding definitions. The term (dt) is usually flush left. The description or definition (dd) is usually either indented and on the next line, or on the same line to the right of the term. However, actual rendering is up to the rendering engine.

An optional heading for the terms and definitions can be provided using the dlhead element, which contains header elements for those columns. The default formatting for the dlhead generally looks like a table with a heading row, but this is also up to the rendering engine.

Content models

See appendix for information about this element in OASIS document type shells.


- topic/dl


Figure. Simple definition list example
<dt>Bytes returned</dt>
<dd>The number of bytes of data returned.</dd>
<dt>Bytes available</dt>
<dd>The number of bytes of data available to be returned.</dd>
<dd>The returned handle value</dd>
Figure. Definition list with a heading
  <dthd>Image File View Selection</dthd>
  <ddhd>Resulting Information</ddhd>
  <dt>File Type</dt>
  <dd>Image's file extension</dd>
  <dt>Image Class</dt>
  <dd>Image is raster, vector, metafile or 3D</dd>
  <dt>Number of pages</dt>
  <dd>Number of pages in the image</dd>
  <dd>Names of the fonts contained within a vector image</dd>

Rendering of definition lists will vary by application and by display format. Processors MIGHT render the second example as follows.

Image File View Selection
Resulting Information
File Type
Image's file extension
Image Class
Image is raster, vector, metafile or 3D
Number of pages
Number of pages in the image
Names of the fonts contained within a vector image


The following attributes are available on this element: Universal attribute group, outputclass, compact, and spectitle.