What is the significance of the <navtitle> element in a DITA map?

The <navtitle> element in DITA maps serves the purpose of providing an alternative, shorter title for a section or topic within the map. This element is useful for creating concise entries in navigation tables of contents, lists, or other contexts where brevity is essential.

Using <navtitle> in DITA Maps

Using <navtitle> in DITA maps creates alternative titles, optimizes navigation, and maintains consistency.

Alternative Title for Navigation

The primary role of the <navtitle> element is to provide an alternative, shorter title for sections or topics within a DITA map. This alternative title is specifically intended for navigation purposes. While the <title> element within the referenced topic provides a full and descriptive title, the <navtitle> allows authors to create a shorter, more succinct title suitable for navigation lists, tables of contents, or navigation menus. This is especially valuable in situations where space is limited, and a shorter label is more practical.

Optimizing Navigation

The use of <navtitle> can significantly enhance the navigation experience for users. When navigating a complex document, a concise title makes it easier for users to quickly locate and select the desired section or topic. This is especially important in online documentation, where screen space may be limited, or in print documents with space constraints. The <navtitle> element improves the efficiency of navigation by providing clear and compact labels for sections.

Maintaining Consistency

The <navtitle> element allows authors to maintain consistency between the full title of a section or topic (in the <title> element of the referenced topic) and the shorter navigation title. It ensures that the concise titles used for navigation accurately reflect the content of the sections or topics they represent. This consistency helps users quickly identify and understand the content associated with each navigation entry.


Here’s an example of a DITA map with the <navtitle> element in XML format:

<!DOCTYPE map PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Map//EN" "map.dtd">
  <title>Product Documentation</title>
  <topicref href="introduction.dita">
  <topicref href="installation.dita">
    <navtitle>Install Guide</navtitle>
  <topicref href="operation.dita">

In this example:

  • The DITA map has a title, “Product Documentation.”
  • Each <topicref> element references a DITA topic.
  • The <navtitle> element is included within each <topicref> element to provide a shorter, alternative title for that section or topic. The <navtitle> for “introduction.dita” is set to “Intro,” providing a concise entry in navigation lists while the full title is still contained in the <title> element of the referenced topic. This is particularly useful when space is limited or when a more concise label is preferred for navigation.