What is the role of images in DITA content?

Images enhance content by providing visual information and context to readers. In DITA topics, images serve to complement and enrich textual content with visual elements. They play a pivotal role in conveying information, illustrating concepts, and enhancing the understanding of the subject matter. Images can be used for various purposes, including diagrams, illustrations, screenshots, photographs, charts, and more.

The role of images in DITA topics include visual representation, clarification and illustration, engagement, and support for multilingual audiences.

  • Visual Representation: Images provide a visual representation of content that may be challenging to describe adequately through text alone. This can be especially important for technical or complex subjects.
  • Clarification and Illustration: They help clarify textual information and illustrate key points. For example, a diagram can explain the parts of a machine, or a screenshot can show how to use a software application.
  • Engagement: Images can make content more engaging and accessible to a wider audience, including visual learners. They break up long sections of text, making content more visually appealing.
  • Support for Multilingual Audiences: Images can transcend language barriers, making content more understandable to a global audience.


An organization is creating DITA documentation for assembling a piece of furniture. In the assembly instructions, they choose to use images to illustrate the steps. For example, they include an image showing how to attach two parts together, another image demonstrating the proper use of a tool, and so on. These images visually guide the user through the assembly process, making it easier to follow the instructions.

<p>This is how you attach the side panels:</p>
<image href="attachment-process.jpg" />

In this example:

  • The <p> element provides some text-based context.
  • The <image> element references the image file “attachment-process.jpg” to visually demonstrate the attachment process.