Are there best practices for content reuse in DITA?

Best practices for content reuse in DITA provide guidelines and strategies to effectively utilize the reuse capabilities of the DITA standard. These practices help organizations maintain consistency, improve efficiency, and reduce errors in their technical documentation.

Some of the best practices involved with content reuse are:

  • Modular Content: Break content into smaller, reusable modules or components. Instead of copying and pasting content, create separate DITA topics for common information, such as disclaimers, product specifications, or legal notices.
  • Use Keyrefs: DITA provides the <keyref> element for referencing reusable content. Utilize keyrefs for elements that should be repeated across documents. These can be defined in a central location, making updates easier.
  • Consistent Naming Conventions: Adopt clear and consistent naming conventions for topics and keys. This makes it easier to identify and manage reusable content, especially in large documentation sets.
  • Content Organization: Create a structured repository for reusable content. This could be a dedicated folder structure or a content management system. Having a well-organized repository streamlines content retrieval and maintenance.
  • Version Control: Implement version control for reusable content. Ensure that changes can be tracked and updated to reusable elements over time.
  • Testing and Validation: Regularly test reused content to verify that it works as expected in various contexts. This is particularly important when the source of reusable content is updated.


An organization creating product documentation for a range of software products wants to ensure consistency in their disclaimers, which appear in multiple documents.

Modular Content:

The organization creates a separate DITA topic for the disclaimer text, which explains warranty information. This topic is stored in a central “Disclaimers” folder.


In each product’s documentation, they use keyrefs to reference the disclaimer topic. The keyref is linked to the central “Warranty Disclaimer” topic.

Naming Conventions:

They use a clear naming convention like “warranty-disclaimer.dita” for the disclaimer topic. This standardized naming makes it easy to locate and identify the content.

Content Organization:

The organization maintains a content repository where they store all their reusable topics. It’s structured to categorize content based on type (disclaimers, product specifications, branding information, etc.).

Version Control:

They use version control tools to track changes to the disclaimer topic. This ensures that they can review and roll back changes if needed.