Can attributes affect the content of DITA topics?

Yes, attributes can affect the content of DITA topics. Attributes play a crucial role in controlling the behavior and appearance of content within DITA topics. They enable content creators to define various aspects of content presentation, organization, and processing, making it possible to customize and tailor DITA topics for different purposes or audiences.

Attributes can affect content through conditional processing, styling and formatting, metadata, navigation, linking, and content transformation.

Conditional Processing:

Attributes like @props, @audience, and custom attributes can be used to specify conditions under which certain content should be included or excluded from the output. For example, you can conditionally include or exclude content for different audience levels (e.g., beginner, intermediate, advanced) based on the @audience attribute.

Styling and Formatting:

Attributes can control the styling and formatting of content elements. For example, the @outputclass attribute can specify CSS classes or styling information to apply to specific elements, allowing for consistent styling across topics.

Metadata and Description:

Attributes like @title, @author, @date, @keywords, and @desc can provide metadata and descriptive information about the content. This metadata can be used for content categorization, search, and indexing.

Navigation and Organization:

Attributes such as @navtitle can determine the text displayed in navigation elements, affecting how content is organized and labeled in the table of contents, breadcrumbs, and navigation bars.

Linking and Relationships:

Attributes like @href and @format can establish links between topics and specify output formats for linked resources, influencing the structure and interconnections of content.

Content Transformation:

Attributes can influence how content is transformed or processed during output generation. For example, the @format attribute can specify different output formats (e.g., HTML, PDF) for a topic, leading to variations in content presentation.


A DITA topic about software features can use attributes to customize its behavior and presentation:

    <title>Feature X</title>
        <p>This is a description of Feature X.</p>
    <!-- Apply conditional processing based on audience -->
    <props audience="beginner">
            <title>Beginner Note</title>
            <p>This feature is suitable for beginners.</p>
    <!-- Apply styling information -->
    <section outputclass="important-feature">
        <title>Important Feature</title>
        <p>This feature is important!</p>
    <!-- Provide metadata -->
        <data name="author">John Doe</data>
        <data name="date">2023-09-30</data>
        <data name="keywords">software, feature, documentation</data>
    <!-- Define navigation title -->
    <navtitle>Feature X</navtitle>
    <!-- Establish relationships and links -->
    <topicref href="related-feature.dita" format="pdf"/>

In this example, various attributes are used to affect the conditional processing, styling, metadata, navigation, and relationships associated with the content of the DITA topic “Feature X.” These attributes collectively determine how the content behaves and appears in the final documentation.