Are there best practices for managing styles and templates in DITA?

Managing styles and templates in DITA involves creating, organizing, and maintaining the resources used for consistent formatting and layout in published content. These best practices help streamline the DITA publishing process, enhance content quality, and maintain brand consistency.

Organized Style and Template Management:

Definition: Managing styles and templates in DITA encompasses the systematic organization, creation, and maintenance of design resources like cascading style sheets (CSS), templates, and associated assets. It ensures that these resources are accessible and reusable, enhancing consistency in published content.

Importance: Organized management of styles and templates is crucial for maintaining brand consistency and efficiency in the publishing process. It allows content creators to adhere to standardized design guidelines and ensures that documents are visually coherent.

Best Practices:

Some best practices for managing styles and templates in DITA include a centralized repository, standard naming conventions, version control, documentation, reusability, testing and validation, and training and support.

Centralized Repository: Store all CSS files, templates, and design assets in a centralized repository or directory structure. This centralization ensures that the most up-to-date resources are easily accessible to content authors.

Standard Naming Conventions: Implement consistent naming conventions for styles, templates, and assets. For example, use clear and logical names like “branding.css” for a stylesheet and “product-manual-template.dita” for a template.

Version Control: Apply version control to stylesheets and templates. Tools like Git help track changes and ensure that previous versions can be retrieved if necessary.

Documentation: Create documentation or guidelines that detail how to use styles and templates. Documenting best practices for applying styles, using templates, and inserting content can be invaluable for content creators.

Reusability: Design styles and templates with reusability in mind. Ensure that they are flexible and adaptable for various types of content, reducing the need for extensive customization for each new document.

Testing and Validation: Regularly test styles and templates to ensure they work across different output formats and devices. Check for any inconsistencies or issues and make necessary adjustments.

Training and Support: Provide training and support for content creators on how to use styles and templates effectively. This can include workshops or guidance on implementing styles for specific content types.


A global software company using DITA for product documentation follows best practices for managing styles and templates.

Centralized Repository: They maintain a dedicated folder on a shared network drive where all CSS files, templates, and branding assets are stored. This folder is accessible to all team members involved in content creation.

Standard Naming Conventions: The company uses clear naming conventions. For example, they name their primary CSS file “global-styles.css” and product-specific templates with a structured naming format like “product-manual-template.dita.”

Version Control: Git is used to track changes to stylesheets and templates. This ensures that previous versions are available, and it allows for collaborative development and tracking of updates.

Documentation: The company has a comprehensive style and template guide that explains how to use the resources effectively. It includes examples and instructions on applying styles and templates for various content types.

By following these best practices, the company ensures that its styles and templates are well-organized, accessible, and maintained to deliver consistent, professional, and branded content across various documentation projects.