The <reference> element defines a top-level container for a reference topic. Reference topics document programming constructs or facts about a product. Examples of reference topics include (but are not limited to) product specifications, environmental specifications, equipment lists, parts lists, required tools, language elements, class descriptions, commands, functions, and API information. All of these topics provide quick access to facts, but they do not contain a deeper explanation of related concepts or tasks.

Reference topics have the same high-level structure as any other topic type, with a title, short description, and body. Within the body, reference topics are typically organized into one or more sections, property lists, and tables. The reference topic type provides general rules that apply to all kinds of reference information, using elements like <refsyn> for syntax or signatures, and <properties> for lists of properties and values

Content models

See appendix for information about this element in OASIS document type shells.


- topic/topic reference/reference


Reference topic for software material

<reference id="refexample">
  <title>A reference topic</title>
    <refsyn>Describe command or api syntax here, possibly
using synph or syntax elements markup for explicit 
definition of syntax or prototype construction.</refsyn>
    <section><title>Some section title</title></section>

Reference topic for hardware maintenance

The following information could apply to an entire set of maintenance procedures, each of which would link to this topic.

<reference id="requiredTools">
  <title>Tools required to maintain a big machine</title>
      <title>Small tools</title>
        <li>Hard hat</li>
        <li>Metal polish</li>
        <!-- .... -->
      <title>Expensive tools</title>


The following attributes are available on this element: Universal attribute group (with a narrowed definition of @id, given below), Architectural attribute group, and @outputclass.

An anchor point. This ID is usually required as part of the @href or @conref syntax when cross referencing or reusing content within the topic; it also enables <topicref> elements in DITA maps to optionally reference a specific topic within a DITA document. This attribute is defined with the XML Data Type ID.

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