Are there conventions for formatting and citing external references in DITA?

In DITA XML, there are conventions and best practices for formatting and citing external references to ensure consistency and clarity in technical documentation. When creating links to external references, it’s common to use the <xref> element. To maintain a standardized format, it’s essential to provide a clear and informative title or label within the <xref> element to describe the linked content. This title should effectively convey the nature of the external reference or citation to the reader.

Additionally, to ensure proper citation and context, DITA supports the use of the <linkinfo> element, which can be added within the <xref> element. The <linkinfo> element contains metadata about the linked content, including a description, source, and other relevant information. This metadata adds context and credibility to the external reference, making it more valuable to the reader.


Here’s an example of how to format and cite external references in DITA XML:

<p>In the study conducted by Smith et al. (2022), they found that our product has significant advantages in terms of performance. Please see <xref href="" scope="external">Smith et al. (2022)</xref> for the full report.</p>

In this example, the <xref> element links to an external PDF document located at “,” which is a study conducted by Smith et al. in 2022. By providing this clear and standardized format, readers can easily identify and access the external reference while maintaining proper citation and context.