Transitional information, such as stem sentences, is largely
redundant in DITA's minimalist, topic-based, semantic mark-up architecture. The
role of transitional information in
the content has been eliminated through the use of smaller chunk sizes,
meaningful titles, information typing, structure, and demarcation labels
automatically-generated in the output.
Transitional information, or
glue text, is text used to inform readers of what has come
before and what will follow later. In other words, it leads the reader from one
idea to the next idea. When working in a modular documentation system, the
author cannot assume what will come before or after, because information chunks
can be assembled in different sequences and combinations to form different
Some common forms of transitional information are found in:
- stub content,
"In this chapter..."
- stem sentences,
"To change the wheel:"
phrases , such as
"Before starting, make sure you have..."
- cross-references, such as
"For more information, see..."
- locational markers, such as
"Next, we will describe..." and
"Having completed the previous..."
In DITA, devices other than transitional text are used to maintain
cohesion and to manage transition.
- Smaller information chunks,
labelled with meaningful titles, reduce the need for stem sentences,
particularly in task topics.
- Information typing separates
content that may otherwise have been bundled together into distinct topics,
thus breaking up generalist topics into, for example, concept, task and
reference topics. This separation reduces the need for transitional text within
- Using a structure where much
of the context of a document is defined in the ditamap, rather than the topic,
and the careful use of well-crafted short descriptions, allows stub content and
cross-reference information to be automatically generated during the publishing
process. For example, a
prereq semantic element in a topic can be differentiated
from other content by the application of labels or icons during the publishing
process, and relationship tables can be used to form the links to related
topics in the output.
- Adopting a minimalist
approach to writing can also serve to eliminate superfluous transitional
In summary, avoid using transitional text, and rely on
structure, meaningful titles and short descriptions, the separation of document
context into the ditamap, and the publishing process, to achieve coherence,
cohesion and transition.