Can DITA support multilingual content authoring?

DITA offers robust support for multilingual content authoring, allowing organizations to efficiently create and manage content in multiple languages while ensuring consistency and reducing redundancy.

DITA Elements for Multilingual Content:

DITA’s core structural elements, such as <p> for paragraphs, <ph> for phrases, and <xref> for cross-references, are language-agnostic. This means content structure remains consistent across languages.

Key References (conkeyref) for Language Variation:

Key references in DITA (conkeyref) efficiently manage content variations across languages.

They point to different translations of content while maintaining a single source for shared topics or elements, ensuring consistency and minimizing duplication.

Conditional Processing for Language-Specific Content:

DITA’s conditional processing attributes allow content to be included or excluded based on language. For example, conditions like language=en for English and language=fr for French content can be defined.

Integration with Localization Process:

DITA integrates with localization and translation tools, enabling the export of DITA content for translation and reimport of translated content into DITA topics, streamlining the translation workflow.

Translation Memory and Terminology Management:

DITA works with translation memory systems (TMS) and terminology management solutions to ensure consistent translation and terminology reuse across languages.


A software user manual authored in DITA needs to be available in both English and French.

1. Authoring in DITA:

  <!-- English Version -->
  <p conkeyref="language=en">Welcome to our software.</p>

  <!-- French Version -->
  <p conkeyref="language=fr">Bienvenue dans notre logiciel.</p>

Content for both languages coexists in the same DITA topic, with each portion marked based on the language condition.

2. Conditional Processing:

        <keyword keyname="language" keyscope="local">
          <keyword keyref="en" conaction="exclude" />
          <keyword keyref="fr" conaction="exclude" />

This configuration specifies that, for a specific output (e.g., English version), topics marked with conaction=”exclude” for the language=en condition should be excluded. A similar configuration is set up for the French version.

3. Translation Workflow:

DITA content is exported for translation, providing the translation team with the English and French versions. Once translated, the content can be reimported into DITA topics.