<reference>: How do you use the <reference> element in DITA to provide reference information or details?

The <reference> element in DITA is used to provide reference information or details within a topic. It is particularly useful for including additional information that may not be directly related to the main content but can offer valuable context or explanations for specific terms, concepts, or elements mentioned in the topic.

Typical Usage of the <reference> Element

When employing the <reference> element, it is common to use it within the <section> element to create a clear and organized structure. The <title> element is typically utilized to provide a title or heading for the reference section, and then the reference content follows within the <refbody> element. This content can include explanations, definitions, context, or any information that enhances the reader’s understanding.


Here’s an example of how the <reference> element can be used in DITA:

<section id="glossary">
      <definition>Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.</definition>
      <definition>An Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of rules and protocols that allows one software application to interact with or access the features and data of another application, service, or platform.</definition>

In this example, the <reference> element is used within a <section> titled “Glossary” to provide definitions for the terms “XML” and “API.” This allows readers to access reference information conveniently while reading the topic.