How do I get started with DITA adoption in my organization?

Getting started with adopting DITA involves a strategic approach to implementing structured content authoring and management. DITA is a framework for creating and organizing content, particularly suited for industries that require structured and reusable documentation. This process requires assessment and planning, training and familiarization, content analysis and conversion, authoring in DITA, templates and style guides, content management, testing and validation, and scaling and optimization.

Assessment and Planning:

  • Assess Documentation Needs: Understand the organization’s documentation requirements, the types of content to be created, and the complexity of the documentation.
  • Identify Stakeholders: Determine who will be involved in the adoption process, including content creators, subject matter experts, and IT support.
  • Set Goals: Define clear objectives for adopting DITA, such as improving content consistency, enabling content reuse, or supporting multichannel publishing.

Training and Familiarization:

  • Educate the Team: Provide training to content creators and editors on DITA concepts, including topic-based authoring, structured content, and XML markup.
  • Select DITA Tools: Choose the appropriate DITA authoring and management tools based on the organization’s needs and budget. Popular tools include oXygen XML Editor, Adobe FrameMaker, and DITA Open Toolkit.

Content Analysis and Conversion:

  • Content Inventory: Take stock of existing documentation. Identify reusable content components and assess the content’s structure.
  • Conversion: Convert existing content into the DITA format. This may involve restructuring content into DITA topics and applying appropriate XML tags.

Authoring in DITA:

  • Topic-Based Authoring: Encourage content creators to adopt a topic-based authoring approach. Create content in small, reusable topics that can be assembled into larger documents.
  • Structured Writing: Emphasize structured writing practices to ensure consistency and adherence to DITA guidelines.

Templates and Style Guides:

  • Develop Templates: Create DITA templates for different types of content, such as user guides, product manuals, or technical documentation.
  • Style Guides: Establish style guides and best practices to maintain consistency in terminology, formatting, and writing style.

Content Management:

  • Implement a CMS: Consider implementing a Content Management System (CMS) that supports DITA.
  • Version Control: Set up version control systems to track changes and revisions in DITA content.

Testing and Validation:

  • Quality Assurance: Conduct thorough testing of DITA content to ensure it renders correctly in different output formats (e.g., PDF, HTML).
  • User Feedback: Gather feedback from content creators and end-users to refine the DITA implementation.

Scaling and Optimization:

  • Scalability: As the organization becomes more proficient with DITA, scale up the adoption to cover additional documentation and departments.
  • Optimization: Continuously optimize DITA content and processes based on feedback and evolving needs.


A technology company decides to adopt DITA to streamline its software documentation process. They begin by assessing their extensive documentation needs, including user manuals, help guides, and release notes. After providing DITA training to their technical writers and selecting oXygen XML Editor as their authoring tool, they convert a sample set of user manuals into DITA format.

To ensure consistency, they develop DITA templates and style guides tailored to software documentation. They implement a CMS that supports DITA and establish version control practices. As they gradually convert and create new content using DITA, they observe improved content reuse, faster documentation updates, and greater consistency in their software documentation.