Definition lists versus tables

Definition lists should be used for structuring terms and their corresponding definitions, rather than an alternative table structure.

Some information structures, particularly terms with corresponding definitions, can be marked up as either definition lists or tables.

If the content is indeed made up of terms and definitions, the definition list (dl) structure should be used. For content not so clearly identifiable as terms and definitions, but where there is a two part structure made up of short phrase and a longer explanation of the phrase, the simpler definition list structure should always be preferred over the table structure.

Definition lists are particularly suited to defining or explaining components or items.


Screen captures showing the difference between tables and definition lists in PDF output

The difference between tables and definition lists

Definition lists are rendered with fewer potential complications than tables, and are semantically stronger than the more generic table structure.