How does the format and structure of an index vary for different DITA output types, such as PDF vs. web help?

The format and structure of a DITA index can vary depending on the output type, such as PDF vs. web help. This adaptability is one of the strengths of DITA, as it allows you to tailor the index to meet the specific needs and expectations of your audience and the medium in which the documentation will be consumed.

PDF Output

For PDF output, DITA allows you to create a traditional alphabetical index at the end of the document. This index typically lists keywords or topics in alphabetical order, along with page numbers or hyperlinks to the corresponding pages in the PDF. The PDF index is often presented as a separate section, making it easy for users to locate information by browsing through the alphabetical entries.

Web Help Output

Web help output, on the other hand, often benefits from a more interactive and dynamic approach to indexing. In web-based documentation, you can utilize features such as search bars, auto-suggest functionality, and contextual links to enhance user navigation. Instead of a traditional static index, web help indexes are designed to facilitate quick keyword searches and provide instant access to relevant content. DITA allows you to implement these web-friendly indexing features to improve the user experience.


Here’s an example of how the format and structure of an index can differ between PDF and web help output in DITA:

<index type="pdf">
    <term>Installation Guide</term>
    <term>User Manual</term>

<index type="web-help">

In this example, the DITA index for PDF output provides alphabetical entries with page references, while the web help index includes interactive features like a search bar, auto-suggest, and contextual links to enhance the online user experience.