The <foreign> element allows the introduction of non-DITA content, for example, MathML, SVG, or Rich Text Format (RTF). The <foreign> element or a specialization can contain more than one type of non-DITA content or a mix of DITA and non-DITA content. Specialization of the <foreign> element generally is implemented as a domain, but architects looking for more control over the content can implement foreign vocabularies as structural specializations.

Processors should attempt to display <foreign> content unless otherwise instructed. If the processor cannot render the content, it MAY issue a warning.

The enabler of the foreign vocabulary must provide the processing and override the base processing for <foreign>.

  • If <foreign> contains more than one alternative content element, they should all be processed. In the case of <desc> they should be concatenated in a similar way to <section>, but with no title (analogous to <div> in HTML).
  • If alternate content is desired, specialize the <desc> element to contain it. This specialization of <desc> should be used within the element specialized from <foreign>. Such alternate content must of course be valid wherever the <foreign> specialization is valid.
  • If no <desc>, <object>, or <image> element is found within an instance of the <foreign> element, the base processing can emit a warning about the absence of processable content.
  • The base processing for <object> might emit the content of <foreign> as a file at the location specified by the @data attribute of the <object> element. The <object> element should have a data attribute or a <foreign> sub-element but not both. In the event that an <object> element contains both a data attribute and an <foreign> sub-element the processing system should ignore one of them.

Content models

See appendix for information about this element in OASIS document type shells.


- topic/foreign

SVG Example within a <p> element

<p>... as in the formula 
    <svg:svg width="100%" height="100%" version="1.1"

<ellipse cx="300" cy="150" rx="200" ry="80"


MathML Example within an <object> element

<p>... as in the formula 
  <desc>4 + x</desc>
    <m:math display="block">


The following attributes are available on this element: Universal attribute group and outputclass.