What role do content keys and identifiers play in translation of reused DITA content?

Content keys and identifiers play a crucial role in the translation of reused DITA content. They enable the precise identification and retrieval of specific pieces of content, making it easier to manage translations efficiently. Here’s how content keys and identifiers are used in this context:

  • Identification: Content keys are unique identifiers associated with DITA elements, topics, or sections. When content is reused, content keys help identify the source content that needs translation, ensuring that the correct content is selected for translation.
  • Retrieval: Content keys are used to retrieve translated content from a translation memory or a content repository. When a DITA document references a content key, the translation system can fetch the corresponding translated content from the repository if available, reducing the need for retranslation.
  • Consistency: Content keys and identifiers promote consistency by ensuring that the same content is used across different documents, including translations. This consistency is essential for maintaining a unified message and avoiding translation errors or discrepancies.


Consider a DITA topic with a content key “product-name” that contains the name of a product. This topic is reused in multiple documents. When translating these documents, the content key “product-name” is used to retrieve the translated product name from a translation memory. This ensures that the product name is consistent across all translated documents.

<topic id="product-name" keyref="product-name-key">
  <title>Product Name</title>
    <p>Our product is called "AcmeWidget."</p>

<keydef keys="product-name-key" href="translated-content.dita" scope="local"/>