How is metadata used to categorize and organize topics in a DITA map?

Metadata in a DITA map is used to categorize and organize topics by providing additional information about the content. Metadata elements like <keywords>, <schemeref>, and <audience> help in classifying and structuring topics for efficient content management and retrieval.

Role of Metadata in DITA Maps

Metadata plays a crucial role in categorizing and organizing topics within a DITA map. It includes the use of the <keywords>, <schemeref>, and <audience> elements, among others.

<keywords> Element

The <keywords> element allows authors to specify keywords or tags that describe the content of a topic. This metadata helps in content discovery and retrieval when searching for specific topics or related content.

<schemeref> Element

The <schemeref> element links to a subject scheme, which is a controlled vocabulary or taxonomy of subjects. This allows topics to be categorized according to predefined subject categories, facilitating content organization.

<audience> Element

The <audience> element specifies the target audience or user group for a topic. This helps in tailoring content to specific readers, ensuring that topics are organized based on audience relevance.


A DITA map for a software documentation project uses metadata for organization.

<!DOCTYPE map PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Map//EN" "map.dtd">
  <title>Software Documentation</title>

  <topicref href="introduction.dita">
    <keywords>software, introduction, overview</keywords>
    <schemeref keyref="software-categories" />

  <topicref href="installation.dita">
    <keywords>software, installation, setup</keywords>
    <schemeref keyref="software-categories" />

  <topicref href="advanced-features.dita">
    <keywords>software, features, advanced</keywords>
    <schemeref keyref="software-categories" />

In this example:

  • The DITA map includes three topics, each associated with metadata.
  • The <keywords> element provides tags to describe the content.
  • The <schemeref> element links to a subject scheme defined elsewhere, categorizing topics under predefined subject categories like “software.”
  • The <audience> element specifies the intended audience for each topic, whether it’s for beginners or experts.