About The DITA Style Guide

As more companies implement DITA to streamline the development of technical content, the demand for DITA-literate technical communicators is growing. The DITA Style Guide provides comprehensive, practical explanations of DITA elements and attributes. Real-world examples and clear recommendations show you how to create consistent, semantically-correct DITA content.

The DITA Style Guide: Best Practices for Authors is designed to help DITA authors implement DITA consistently by providing an authoritative reference (in the same way that The Chicago Manual of Style provides a reference for matters of language, writing and presentational style).

Some rules and recommendations may be controversial or contentious, and you may not agree with them. However, the purpose of The DITA Style Guide is to make a ruling one way or the other, so that at least a consistent approach can be adopted.

The DITA Style Guide is written for the DITA base content model, and not for specialisations. (The nature of specialisation would make it impossible to write usage rules!)

The DITA Style Guide is not an exhaustive set of rules or guidelines; it addresses the most common questions that DITA users ask, based on analysis of the Yahoo! DITA Users Group mailing list.

The DITA Style Guide is not authoring-tool specific, so by necessity it uses neutral code examples, rather than examples of what might appear in a WYSIOO editor, or other tool-specific interactions. There are many practical examples, most built around a fictitious car manual.

Style guides are often arranged alphabetically, but The DITA Style Guide is arranged into nine chapters covering different aspects of DITA mark-up. It is intended to be referenced, rather than read (it's not a good read), so the index is comprehensive.

The DITA Style Guide is not intended to teach you about DITA, and is aimed at people already working in a DITA environment. It assumes a working knowledge of XML principles, such as the way elements and attributes work.

The DITA Style Guide is specifically intended to be used in conjunction with, or as a supplement to, the DITA Language Reference, and not as an alternative to it. The online version of The DITA Style Guide will have links to the DITA Language Reference.

In the medium term, it is planned that The DITA Style Guide will become an open source community resource, probably in the form of a DITA-based Wiki.

The DITA Style Guide was written in DITA 1.1, and mostly follows its own recommendations! However, it's almost certain that mistakes were made, despite best efforts to eliminate them. For changes and errata, please visit http://www.ditastyle.com/.