What is the primary goal of a concept topic in documentation?

The goal of a concept topic in DITA documentation is to provide readers with an understanding of underlying principles, theories, or concepts related to a specific subject matter. Concept topics aim to clarify the “why” and “what” behind certain processes, features, or ideas, offering context and background information that aids users in comprehending the subject being discussed.

Concept topics serve several crucial purposes in DITA documentation. These are providing context, explaining fundamentals, enhancing understanding, supporting learning, and facilitating problem-solving.

Providing Context

They offer context and background information that helps users make sense of more detailed content, such as tasks or reference materials. Understanding the concepts behind a subject matter is often essential before users can effectively utilize related information.

Explaining Fundamentals

Concept topics explain fundamental concepts, theories, or principles associated with the topic at hand. They aim to answer questions like “What is it?” and “Why is it important?” to build a solid foundation of knowledge.

Enhancing Understanding

By offering explanations and clarifications, concept topics enhance users’ comprehension of the subject matter. This understanding can empower users to make informed decisions and effectively apply what they learn.

Supporting Learning

Concept topics are valuable in educational or training materials, where learners need to grasp foundational concepts before diving into practical tasks. They facilitate the learning process by providing a theoretical framework.

Facilitating Problem Solving

For troubleshooting or problem-solving tasks, understanding the underlying concepts is crucial. Concept topics help users diagnose issues and make informed decisions based on their understanding of the subject matter.


An organization is creating documentation for a software application that includes a feature for data encryption. In this context, a concept topic might be used to explain the fundamental concept of data encryption:

            <title>Data Encryption</title>
                <p>Data encryption is a process of converting plain text into ciphertext to secure sensitive information.</p>
                <p>It helps protect data from unauthorized access and ensures confidentiality.</p>

In this example, the concept topic titled “Data Encryption” provides essential information about what data encryption is and why it is important. Users reading this concept topic gain a foundational understanding of the concept before they proceed to learn how to use data encryption within the software application.