Can DITA handle large and complex tables?

Yes, DITA is capable of handling large and complex tables, making it a suitable choice for technical documentation that includes extensive tabular information. While the goal in any technical communication should be clear and concise presentation of information, DITA provides the flexibility and extensibility required to handle large and complex tables effectively. It allows for the structuring and organization of tabular data in a way that enhances readability and usability, even for intricate tables with numerous rows and columns.

DITA achieves this through structured markup, table nesting, content organization, and styling and formatting.

Structured Markup:

DITA employs structured markup to define tables, which makes it suitable for managing complex tabular content. Elements like <table>, <tgroup>, <colspec>, and <tbody> allow the creation of tables with various properties and features, such as column specifications, headers, and body content.

Table Nesting:

DITA supports nested tables, enabling the creation of complex layouts. Tables can be included within other tables, allowing for intricate designs that involve grouping, merging, or splitting cells.

Content Organization:

DITA provides methods for organizing and structuring table content. This includes the use of header rows, header columns, footnotes, and references to external content.

Styling and Formatting:

DITA offers style mechanisms, such as cascading style sheets (CSS), to format and style large tables, ensuring they are visually appealing and easy to navigate.


A complex table within a software user manual contains details about various software features, including feature names, descriptions, release versions, and compatibility information. This table needs to be comprehensive to serve the needs of users.

                <col style="width: 15%"/>
                <col style="width: 40%"/>
                <col style="width: 20%"/>
                <col style="width: 25%"/>
                    <th>Feature Name</th>
                    <th>Release Version</th>
                    <td>Feature A</td>
                    <td>Detailed description of Feature A.</td>
                    <td>Version 2.0</td>
                    <td>Compatible with OS X, Windows</td>
                <!-- More rows with detailed feature information -->