Are there considerations for generating print-ready documents from DITA for educational textbooks and materials?

Generating print-ready documents from DITA for educational textbooks and materials requires careful consideration and planning. Here are some key considerations and practices:

Structured Content for Print

DITA’s structured content authoring is the foundation for creating print-ready educational materials. Authors should use DITA elements to structure content, including topics, sections, and metadata. This structured approach allows for content to be well-organized and semantically rich, which is essential for print layout and formatting.

Print-Specific CSS

When generating print-ready documents, it’s important to create print-specific Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). These styles should define how the content is presented on paper. Print-specific CSS can control page margins, typography, pagination, and other elements that are unique to printed materials. Using conditional processing in DITA, authors can apply print styles selectively to content intended for print output.

Pagination and Page Breaks

Managing pagination and page breaks is crucial for print documents, especially educational textbooks. DITA allows authors to control where page breaks should occur using elements like <fig> or <topic>. Authors can also use attributes like ‘pagebreak’ to specify where a page break should be inserted, ensuring that content flows smoothly in the print version.


Here’s an example of a DITA topic structure that includes print-specific CSS and pagination control:

<topic id="math_textbook_chapter">
  <title>Chapter 1: Algebra Basics</title>

This chapter covers the fundamental concepts of algebra.

</content> <conditional-dita outputclass="print"> <![CDATA[ </conditional-dita> <fig> <title>Example 1</title> <image href="algebra_example1.png"/> <p>Here's an example of solving a basic equation.

</fig> <fig> <title>Example 2</title> <image href="algebra_example2.png"/> <p>Let's explore more algebraic concepts.

</fig> <topicref href="appendix_symbols.dita"/> <topicref href="exercises_ch1.dita"/> </topic>

In this example, the DITA topic represents a chapter from a math textbook. The ‘outputclass’ metadata specifies that it’s intended for print output. The conditional processing includes print-specific CSS styles, while the use of <fig> elements allows for organized content with controlled page breaks in the printed version.