How are cross-references used to link to specific locations within DITA topics?

Cross-references in DITA XML are essential for linking to specific locations within DITA topics, allowing for precise navigation and accessibility of relevant content. They enable document creators to establish connections to specific sections, paragraphs, or elements within a DITA topic, providing readers with a seamless way to access detailed information without the need to scroll through the entire document. This feature enhances the user experience and ensures that readers can quickly find the content they are interested in.

For example, you can create a cross-reference within a DITA topic that points to a specific step in a procedural section. This cross-reference can be constructed as follows:

<xref href="topic.dita#step3">See step 3</xref>

In this example, “topic.dita” is the target DITA topic, and “#step3” refers to the specific location within the topic, which corresponds to “step 3.” When readers encounter this cross-reference and click on it, they are directly taken to step 3 within the “topic.dita” topic, which is incredibly useful for instructional content where a user may need to follow a sequence of steps.