Can links be used to reference glossary entries and provide definitions within DITA topics?

Linking glossary terms and their definitions in DITA XML is an effective way to provide context and understanding to readers. It enhances the usability of your documentation by allowing users to access explanations of terms directly. In DITA, you can link glossary terms to their definitions using conref and other linking mechanisms.

1. Conref Mechanism: The conref attribute is commonly used in DITA to link glossary terms to their definitions. This attribute allows you to “conref” or include content from another topic. For glossary terms, you can create a glossary entry topic that includes the term and its definition. Then, in the main content, you can use the conref attribute to reference the glossary entry topic, making the term clickable and leading the reader to the full definition.


Suppose you have a glossary term in your main content:

<ph conref="glossary-entry.dita#term">DITA</ph>

Here, “glossary-entry.dita” is the file that contains the definition of the term “DITA.” The conref attribute links to the specific term within that file, allowing the reader to access the definition when clicking on “DITA.”

2. Linktext Element: In DITA, you can customize the link text that represents the glossary term. The linktext element can be used to specify the text that appears as the clickable link. This is helpful when you want to provide additional context or when the term itself might not be the best link text.


You can create a link to a glossary term with a custom link text:

<ph conref="glossary-entry.dita#term">Learn more about <linktext>DITA</linktext></ph>

In this example, the link text will display as “Learn more about DITA,” and clicking it will take the reader to the definition in the glossary entry.

These mechanisms make it easy to link glossary terms and their definitions in DITA XML, ensuring that readers can access explanations and context as they navigate your documentation.