What role do stylesheets and templates play in map-based publishing?

Stylesheets and templates in DITA map publishing play a crucial role in formatting, styling, and rendering DITA content for various output formats, such as PDF, HTML, or online help.

Importance of Stylesheets and Templates

Stylesheets and templates are essential components in the DITA map publishing process, enabling the transformation of structured DITA content into human-readable and visually appealing output.


Stylesheets are sets of rules that define how DITA elements and their attributes should be presented in the output. They determine the formatting, layout, fonts, colors, and other visual aspects of the published content. Stylesheets are typically written in languages like XSL-FO (for PDF) or CSS (for HTML).


Templates, also known as transformation scenarios, specify how DITA content should be processed and formatted for specific output types. They often include references to the stylesheets and define parameters for generating output in different formats. Templates are used to control the publication process, ensuring that content is tailored to the target medium (e.g., print, web, mobile).


A company wants to publish a DITA map as both a PDF user manual and an HTML online help system. Stylesheets and templates would be used in this process. The stylesheet defines how elements like <title> or <ul> are formatted in the PDF, while the HTML stylesheet governs their appearance on the web. Templates specify which stylesheets to use for each output format and provide instructions on how to generate the PDF and HTML versions of the DITA content. The stylesheets ensure that content is visually consistent and properly formatted for both print and online consumption.