Structured Writing Part 6: Publishing XML Content

March 09, 2017

Once you've created some XML content using DITA, you're ready to publish the content to one or more outputs. The building blocks for publishing are the XML files, a DITA map and a style sheet. XML authoring programs offer a range of publishing options. Let's look at how this works.

Assembling the Content Using a DITA Map


To assemble the XML files, you need to create a DITA map in your XML authoring program, which is a way to pull all the XML files into an organized group. A DITA map is like a table of contents in a Microsoft Word document, only you're creating it from multiple files. In this example, the DITA map for Output A would include topics 1, 2 and 3. The DITA map for Output B would include topics 1, 3 and 6.



You can add and delete topics at any time in a DITA map and you can have multiple DITA maps that make up a document.

Publishing Content


Once you've assembled your content in a DITA map, you can publish it to multiple outputs simultaneously, depending on your XML authoring tool. Some of the standard outputs include PDF, EPUB, Kindle, HTML and online help systems.


If you've created some conditional attributes for things like product, version or audience, you select these options during the publishing step. For example, in my previous blog post, I gave an example where three products all had the same instructions called "How to Verify Package Contents." A fourth product had an additional instruction. To add the variation for the fourth product, you'd apply the product conditional attribute to the specific element that includes the additional instruction. Then when you publish the fourth product's instructions, you'd select that product in the conditions option. The results would look like this:


Products A, B and C

Product D

How to Verify Package Contents

Verify the package contents before you begin.

  1. Open the box.

  2. Find the packing slip.

  3. Compare the contents to the packing slip.

Now you're done verifying package contents.

How to Verify Package Contents

Verify the package contents before you begin.

  1. Open the box.

  2. Find the packing slip.

  3. Compare the contents to the packing slip.

  4. Enter your product codes into our database so we can send you product updates.

Now you're done verifying package contents.


So you can write content one time but add variations to it and then select those options during the publishing step. This is a big cost savings if you translate your content because once you've translated the core instructions, you only have to send the variations out to translation. In this case, you're sending 14 words instead of 46. You can have a big cost savings.

Style Sheets Define the Formatting


XML authoring programs come with standard style sheets, or XSLTs (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations), which defines styles for each element in the DITA standard and each output type. You can modify the style sheet to apply your company's styles such as font types and colors, but it does take some coding skills.



There are a lot of publishing options for XML-authored content such as selecting content from a variety of files and being able to publish to multiple outputs.


Structured writing is a complex topic because it can be applied in so many different ways. In this series of blog posts, I've focused on how to apply structured writing in terms of technical content using a XML-based authoring program, but there are many more applications. This is my last blog post in the series on structured writing and I hope you've enjoyed the series.

Further Resources on Translation Services

You may gain further insight into content strategy, content localization, translations and related topics by reviewing the previous blogs written by GPI:



GPI's content strategists and localization specialists can help analyze your website and provide guidance on any localization and global digital marketing requirements. GPI also offers Global Search Engine Marketing Services and many other Translation Services.


Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.

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Daniela has over 16 years' experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA). She has managed a wide variety of document, website, software and audio-video localization projects utilizing different Translation Management Systems (TMS), Translation Memory (TM) and I18n and L10n tool suites.