How are hyperlinks managed in DITA outputs?

Hyperlinks in DITA outputs play a crucial role in connecting content elements, providing navigation, and enhancing the user experience.

Hyperlinks are used to create connections between topics, maps, and external resources within DITA outputs. Managing hyperlinks is essential for providing a seamless and interactive reading experience for users.

In DITA, hyperlinks are created using the <xref> (cross-reference) element. The <xref> element allows linking to other topics, sections within topics, or external resources. Hyperlinks can also be embedded within text or placed in specific locations to direct readers to related content.

Linking to Topics:

Hyperlinks to other DITA topics can be created within the same publication using the <xref> element. For example:

        <p>To learn more about this topic, refer to the <xref href="my_other_topic.dita">related topic</xref>.</p>

In this example, the <xref> element is used to link to the “related topic” in the “my_other_topic.dita” file.

Linking to Sections:

DITA allows hyperlinks to be created that point to specific sections or elements within a topic. This is achieved by specifying a target ID:

        <p>For a detailed explanation, see the <xref href="my_topic.dita#section_id">section on this topic</xref>.</p>

Here, the <xref> links to a specific section within the “my_topic.dita” topic using the #section_id.

External Links:

Links to external resources such as websites, documents, or multimedia files can also be created. For example:

<p>Visit the <xref href="">Example Website</xref> for more information.</p>

The <xref> links to an external website in this case.

Link Text:

The text that will be displayed for the hyperlink can be customized. In the examples above, text like “related topic,” “section on this topic,” or “Example Website” is defined to make the hyperlink user-friendly.

Managing Broken Links:

Effective hyperlink management includes periodically checking and validating links. Tools and processes can be implemented to detect and correct broken links, ensuring that users don’t encounter non-functional or outdated references.

Output Transformation:

The way hyperlinks appear in the final DITA output, whether it’s a PDF, HTML, or another format, depends on the transformation process. Different output formats may render hyperlinks in unique ways, and DITA publishing tools allow customization of hyperlink appearance to suit the specific format.


An organization is creating documentation for a software application and wants to include a hyperlink to an external resource, a user guide hosted on their website. In the DITA topic, they can create the following hyperlink:

        <p>Access the <xref href="">User Guide</xref> for detailed instructions.</p>

This <xref> element links to an external PDF user guide. In the DITA output, this hyperlink might appear as: “Access the User Guide for detailed instructions,” and when users click on it, they are directed to the provided URL.