How do I create a DITA topic?

Creating a DITA topic requires a clear understanding of the content’s purpose and the subject matter you intend to convey. To start, you must select a specific concept, task, or piece of knowledge that the topic will address. Consider your audience and their information needs as you make this choice.

Once you’ve determined the topic’s purpose, you need to identify the appropriate topic type within DITA. Concept, task, and reference are the default DITA topic types. Each one is tailored for specific content purposes. For instance, if you’re explaining a theory or concept, the concept topic type is suitable. If you’re providing step-by-step instructions, opt for the task topic type. If you’re producing specific, detailed information about a subject, consider a reference topic type. This decision shapes the structure and elements of your topic.

Structured authoring is a key aspect of creating a DITA topic. You begin by adhering to the conventions of the chosen topic type. For example, a concept topic typically includes elements like <title>, <shortdesc> (short description), and <body>. In contrast, a task topic comprises elements for steps, such as <task>, <step>, and <cmd> (command). Using these structures and conventions ensures that your content conforms to DITA’s standardized format.

With the structure in place, you can start crafting the content of the topic. Take care to communicate information clearly and concisely. Use straightforward language and follow the guidelines set by the chosen topic type, as well as any other style guides you may need to follow, such as an academic standard or company style guide.

Finally, consider metadata and cross-referencing. Adding metadata, such as the topic’s title, author, and revision history, helps organize and manage topics effectively. Cross-referencing allows you to establish links between related topics or external resources, enabling users to navigate easily through your documentation.