Can the organization of content within a topic type be customized?

In standard DITA topic types, the organization of content can be customized to a certain extent. While DITA provides predefined structures and elements for each topic type, authors have flexibility in arranging and structuring content within these predefined guidelines.

Customization within standard DITA topic types involves using the provided DITA elements effectively to structure and organize content. This can be done with element selection, element nesting, attributes, and order and sequencing.

Element Selection:

Authors can choose from a set of predefined DITA elements that are appropriate for the topic type. For example, a concept topic type may include elements like <title>, <p> (paragraph), <ul> (unordered list), and <ol> (ordered list). Authors can select and use these elements as needed to structure their content.

Element Nesting:

DITA allows elements to be nested within one another to create hierarchical structures. For example, within a concept topic, paragraphs, lists, tables, and other elements can be nested to organize and present information effectively.


Many DITA elements have attributes that can be customized to provide additional information or control formatting. Authors can utilize these attributes to fine-tune the presentation of content.

Order and Sequencing:

While DITA provides a recommended order for elements within a topic, authors can customize the order based on the logical flow of the content. For example, within a task topic, authors can reorder steps and substeps to match the task’s sequence.


            <title>Cooking Spaghetti Carbonara</title>
            <shortdesc>Learn how to prepare a classic Italian pasta dish.</shortdesc>
                        <li>200g spaghetti</li>
                        <li>100g pancetta</li>
                        <li>2 large eggs</li>
                        <!-- Additional ingredients -->
                        <li>Boil spaghetti until al dente.</li>
                        <li>Cook pancetta until crispy.</li>
                        <li>Beat eggs and mix with grated cheese.</li>
                        <!-- Additional steps -->

In this customized “task” topic:

  • <title>, <shortdesc>, and other elements are used to structure and describe the task.
  • <section> elements are added to group related content (ingredients and instructions).
  • <ul> and <ol> elements are used for lists to organize ingredients and steps, respectively.