Identifying the information type

Concept, task and reference topics contain different types of content. Concept topics contain explanations, task topics contain procedural steps, and reference topics contain tabular look-up information.

An important skill of an author working in a DITA environment is typing information correctly into information types.

Of the three base DITA information types:

In some types of documents, an instruction may be described with a set of concept, task and reference topics. For example, the use of a car's alarm system may be covered by:

Such a set of topics would be associated using a reltable, so that the topics would be linked or associated in the deliverable document. A typical procedure will require a concept topic and a task topic, and may require a reference topic.

While task information is generally easy to identify, it can be difficult to distinguish concept from reference information. Table 1 explains some of the characteristics of concept topics compared with reference topics.

Table 1. Characteristics of concept and reference topics
  Concept Reference
Purpose/Function

Explanatory

Fact

Access Frequency

A few times

Repeatedly, when needed

Book Context

Front, Middle

Back

Content or Data

Content

Data