Can hyperlinks be customized for different output formats in DITA?

In DITA, hyperlinks can be customized for different output formats to ensure alignment with style and functionality requirements specific to various formats, such as PDF, HTML, or others. DITA allows customization of the appearance and behavior of hyperlinks in various output formats to provide the optimal user experience for each medium. Customization may include modifications to link colors, underlines, hover effects, and more.

Conditional processing attributes in DITA, like outputclass or platform, enable specification of distinct styles for hyperlinks based on the target output format. This ensures that hyperlinks are optimized for both online and print outputs, among others.

When converting DITA content to HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be employed to apply different styles to hyperlinks. For example, specific link colors or hover effects can be defined by creating CSS rules for different classes or IDs.

For print formats like PDF generated from DITA, hyperlinks can be customized using XSL-FO (XSL Formatting Objects). XSL-FO offers precise control over layout, including the appearance of links. Different link styles for print, such as the removal of underlines or color changes to match the print design, can be defined.

In the case of responsive designs, CSS media queries are used to adapt link styles to various screen sizes. For example, larger and more touch-friendly links may be preferred on mobile devices, while more traditional links are suitable for desktop screens.


A DITA topic containing a hyperlink to a product page requires customization of the link style for both HTML and PDF outputs.

Within the DITA topic XML, the hyperlink can be defined with conditional processing attributes for different output formats:

            Learn more about our product on the <a href="" class="html-link">product page</a>.
            Learn more about our product in the <a href="" class="pdf-link">PDF brochure</a>.

This example creates two distinct hyperlinks, each with a specific class attribute. In DITA-OT (DITA Open Toolkit) customization, CSS styles for “html-link” and XSL-FO styles for “pdf-link” can be defined to tailor the appearance of these links in the HTML and PDF outputs, respectively.