How are abbreviations and construction industry acronyms expanded and controlled in DITA documentation?

Expanding and controlling abbreviations and acronyms in DITA documentation within the construction industry is essential for clear communication. Several strategies are employed to achieve this goal:

Abbreviation Elements

In DITA, abbreviation elements are used to define abbreviations and acronyms, providing both the abbreviated form and their expanded meanings. This allows authors to use the abbreviated forms in their documents while ensuring readers can easily access their explanations. Abbreviation elements provide consistency and clarity in the usage of construction-related abbreviations.

Keyref Attribute

The keyref attribute is a powerful feature in DITA that allows for the automatic expansion of abbreviations and acronyms. Authors can define a key definition with the abbreviation and its expansion, and then they can use the keyref attribute in their documents to reference the key definition. When the content is generated or published, DITA automatically expands the abbreviations and acronyms, enhancing readability and comprehension.


Here’s an example of how construction companies expand and control abbreviations and acronyms in DITA documentation:

  <keydef keys="HVAC">
    <topicref href="abbreviations.dita" />

In this example, a key definition is created for “HVAC,” and it references a topic that explains the expansion of this acronym. Authors can then use the keyref attribute in their documents to automatically expand “HVAC” to “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning” when generating content.