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  • Writer's pictureBrad Miller - Director of Operations

Translating and Localizing DITA Structured XML Content for Manufacturing Companies

In the ever-expanding global marketplace, manufacturing companies are increasingly relying on structured content to streamline information management and ensure consistency across their technical documentation. One of the most popular approaches to structured content is DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) structured XML. DITA offers a robust framework for creating, managing, and publishing technical documentation, providing a foundation for efficient translation and localization processes. In this blog post, we will delve into the considerations manufacturing companies should keep in mind when translating DITA structured content and explore the advantages this approach brings to the table.

The History of DITA

The history of DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) structured XML content dates back to the early 2000s, with its development spearheaded by IBM. As organizations grappled with the challenges of managing and presenting vast amounts of technical information, the need for a standardized approach became apparent. DITA emerged as a response to this challenge, providing a flexible and modular framework for creating, organizing, and sharing structured content. In 2001, IBM unveiled the first version of DITA, making it available as an open standard. The architecture drew inspiration from Darwinian evolution, emphasizing the adaptability and survival of the fittest components—a fitting metaphor for the scalable and versatile nature of DITA's information typing system.

Over the years, DITA has evolved into a widely adopted standard, transcending its IBM origins. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) officially took over the stewardship of DITA in 2004, ensuring its continued development and standardization within the industry. As its popularity grew, DITA found application across various sectors beyond its initial focus on technical documentation, including industries such as healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. Its success lies in its ability to offer a structured and modular approach that enhances content reuse, simplifies localization, and supports the dynamic nature of evolving information ecosystems, making it a foundational element in modern content management strategies.

What are the advantages to DITA Structured Content in translation?

The Advantage of Modularizing Content for Translation

DITA structured content seamlessly lends itself to localization due to its modular architecture and standardized format. The modular nature of DITA allows content to be broken down into smaller, self-contained units, such as topics and elements, each with its own defined purpose. This modularity facilitates a granular approach to localization, enabling translators to focus on individual components rather than entire documents. Additionally, the use of standardized tags and metadata in DITA ensures consistency in the structure and presentation of content across different languages, making it easier for localization teams to understand and interpret the information correctly. The clear separation of content from formatting details also streamlines the translation process, as linguists can focus on linguistic nuances without being encumbered by design elements.

Efficient Update Management

In manufacturing, products and processes evolve. DITA's structure makes it easy to update content without impacting the entire document. This agility ensures that translated content can be updated swiftly and accurately, maintaining consistency across languages.

Improved Quality and Consistency

The structured nature of DITA ensures consistent application of styles, formats, and terminology across documents. This consistency is crucial in maintaining a unified brand image and conveying technical information accurately, regardless of the language.

Cost Savings

DITA structured content offers substantial cost savings in translation processes through its modular design and content reuse capabilities. The modular structure of DITA allows organizations to break down content into smaller components, and once a component is translated, it can be reused across multiple documents. This eliminates redundant translation efforts for identical or similar content, significantly reducing costs associated with linguistic services.

Moreover, the standardized nature of DITA, with consistent tags and metadata, streamlines the translation workflow by facilitating automated translation tools. Automated tools can efficiently handle the translation of recurring phrases and standard terminology, freeing up human translators to focus on nuanced language elements. The result is a more streamlined and efficient translation process, reducing both time and labor costs while ensuring linguistic consistency across various documents and languages. Overall, DITA's cost-saving attributes make it an economical choice for companies seeking to communicate effectively on a global scale.

Considerations for Manufacturing Companies Incorporating DITA Structured Content into the Translation Process:

Clear Content Structure:

  • DITA's modular structure allows content to be broken down into smaller, reusable components. When providing content to a translation company, ensure that the DITA maps are well-organized, with clear hierarchies and relationships. This not only simplifies the translation process but also facilitates the reusability of content across different documents.

Terminology Management:

  • Manufacturing companies often have industry-specific terminology. It is crucial to maintain a consistent and accurate glossary to ensure that translated content aligns with the company's technical jargon. Providing a comprehensive terminology list to the translation team helps in maintaining coherence across all languages.

Localization-Friendly Graphics and Multimedia:

  • If your documentation includes images, videos, or other multimedia elements, consider their localization needs. Ensure that graphics are culturally appropriate, and text within images is editable for translation. Additionally, provide any relevant context or explanations to assist the localization team in conveying the intended message accurately.

Collaboration and Communication:

  • Establish a strong line of communication with the translation company. Provide context about the products, processes, and industry standards. Regularly engage in discussions to address queries and clarifications promptly. A collaborative approach enhances the accuracy and relevance of translated content.


For manufacturing companies venturing into global markets, translating and localizing technical content is a strategic imperative. DITA structured XML content not only simplifies this process but also brings efficiency, cost savings, and improved quality to the translation and localization workflows. By understanding the considerations outlined above, manufacturing companies can harness the power of DITA to communicate effectively across borders, ensuring their technical documentation is a valuable asset in any language.


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