symbol — A name that is replaced by a value before processing.


symbol ::= [-]


Common attributes and common linking attributes.

Additional attributes:

  • class (enumeration)
    • “limit”


A symbol is a name that represents a value. It should be used in contexts in which the name will actually be replaced by a value before processing. The canonical example is a #defined symbol in a C program where the C preprocessor replaces every occurrence of the symbol with its value before compilation begins.

The Limit value of the class attribute identifies those symbols that represent system limitations (e.g., the number of characters allowed in a pathname or the largest possible positive integer). DocBook V3.1 introduced the constant element, which may be more suitable for some of these symbols.

Processing expectations

Formatted inline.


Common attributes and common linking attributes.


Identifies the class of symbol

Enumerated values:

The value is a limit of some kind


The following elements occur in symbol: text, abbrev, acronym, alt, anchor, annotation, biblioref, coref, date, emphasis (db._emphasis), firstterm (db._firstterm), footnote, footnoteref, foreignphrase (db._foreignphrase), glossterm (db._glossterm), indexterm (db.indexterm.endofrange), indexterm (db.indexterm.singular), indexterm (db.indexterm.startofrange), inlinemediaobject, link, olink, phrase (db._phrase), quote (db._quote), remark, replaceable, subscript, superscript, trademark, wordasword, xref.


<article xmlns=''>
<title>Example symbol</title>

<para>No filename may be more than <symbol class='limit'>MAXPATHLEN</symbol>
characters long.


No filename may be more than MAXPATHLEN characters long.

Last revised by Norman Walsh on (git hash: 4460ecff4b65268b558037cbda9fadcfb9e3e09a 7c5a17532e372309975fdbdf572c92cf383a8b5d d8336abc499f0c937e6dbe0a81964bf398e6987d)