How are external links created in DITA topics?

In DITA, external links can be created to reference content that exists outside of the documentation set’s DITA topics. These links are essential for citing external resources or connecting to web-based content, providing additional context and references within documentation.

DITA provides the element to create links to external resources. This element is flexible and can be used to link to various types of external content, such as websites, online documents, or specific sections within external documents.

The element has several key attributes:

  • @href: Specifies the target URL or file path.
  • @format: Indicates the format of the linked content.
  • @scope: Defines the scope of the link, which can be “external” for external content.
  • @type: Suggests the type of content, such as “external” for linking to web resources.
  • @show: Determines how the linked content should be displayed, for example, in a new browser window or tab.


Here’s an example of creating an external link to a website within a DITA topic:

For more information, visit the <xref href="" format="html" scope="external" type="external" show="new">Example website</xref>.

In this example, we use the element to link to an external website (“”). The @format attribute specifies that the linked content is in HTML format. The @scope attribute is set to “external,” indicating an external link. The @type attribute is “external,” and the @show attribute “new” suggests opening the link in a new browser window or tab.