How do I handle cross-references within DITA content?

Cross-references in DITA content are used to establish links or references between different parts of a document or across multiple documents within a DITA-based documentation set. These references enable readers to navigate seamlessly between related pieces of information, improving the overall readability and usability of the documentation. Cross-references in DITA are managed through specialized DITA elements and attributes.

In DITA content, cross-references are typically created using the <xref> element. This element allows content creators to define a reference to another part of the document or an external resource, such as another DITA topic, a specific section within a topic, or even an external URL. The <xref> element contains attributes that specify the target of the reference, including the target’s location and type.

For example, this DITA topic discusses software installation. Within this topic, the author wants to reference a related topic that provides troubleshooting information. They can use the <xref> element to create a cross-reference to the troubleshooting topic.

To resolve common installation issues, please refer to the <xref href="troubleshooting.dita">Troubleshooting Guide</xref>.

In this example, the <xref> element is used to link to the “Troubleshooting Guide” topic, which is presumed to be located in the same documentation set and is defined in a file named “troubleshooting.dita.” When readers encounter this reference and click on it, they will be taken to the specified troubleshooting topic for further information.