termdef — An inline definition of a term.


termdef ::= [-]


Common attributes and common linking attributes.

Additional attributes:

  • baseform
  • sortas

Additional Constraints

  • A termdef must contain exactly one firstterm


A termdef is an inline term definition. Some styles of documentation collect all terms together in a glossary of some sort, but another style is to place the definitions inline.

The glossary and glosslist elements support the former style, termdef the latter.

Every term should have an xml:id attribute to uniquely identify it. The content of the termdef is the definition of the term. Often it is valuable to word the definition so that it will stand alone, in case it becomes useful to extract all the terms into a separate glossary in addition to having them defined inline.

Every termdef must contain exactly one firstterm. The firstterm identifies the actual term defined by the termdef.

Processing expectations

Formatted inline.


Common attributes and common linking attributes.


Specifies the base form of the term, the one that appears in the glossary. This allows adjectival, plural, and other variations of the term to appear in the element. The element content is the default base form.


Specifies the string by which the element's content is to be sorted; if unspecified, the content is used


These elements contain termdef: bridgehead, citation, citetitle, emphasis (db.emphasis), entry, firstterm (db.firstterm), glosssee, glossseealso, glossterm (db.glossterm), line, link, literallayout, member, olink, orgdiv, para, phrase (db.phrase), primary, quote (db.quote), remark, secondary, see, seealso, simpara, subtitle, term, termdef, tertiary, title, titleabbrev.


The following elements occur in termdef: text, abbrev, acronym, alt, anchor, author, biblioref, citation, citebiblioid, citetitle, coref, date, editor, email, emphasis (db._emphasis), emphasis (db.emphasis), firstterm (db._firstterm), firstterm (db.firstterm), footnote, footnoteref, foreignphrase (db._foreignphrase), foreignphrase (db.foreignphrase), glossterm (db._glossterm), glossterm (db.glossterm), indexterm (db.indexterm.endofrange), indexterm (db.indexterm.singular), indexterm (db.indexterm.startofrange), inlineequation, inlinemediaobject, jobtitle, link, literal, olink, optional, org, orgname, person, personname, phrase (db._phrase), phrase (db.phrase), productname, productnumber, quote (db._quote), quote (db.quote), remark, subscript, superscript, termdef, trademark, uri, wordasword, xref.


<article xmlns="http://docbook.org/ns/docbook"

  This paragraph contains an inline term definition.
  <termdef xml:id="dt-xml-processor">A software module
  called an <firstterm>XML processor</firstterm> is used
  to read XML documents and provide access to their
  content and structure.</termdef> The definition comes
  from <link xlink:href="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml">the
  XML Recommendation</link>.


This paragraph contains an inline term definition. [Definition: A software module called an XML processor is used to read XML documents and provide access to their content and structure.] The definition comes from the XML Recommendation.

Last revised by Norman Walsh on (git hash: c3457cab689d8fd89ba4252de204cf9a14e40acd 6a501344525f32f9834f0e4a5c3c3f8131803fa4 47fe34b28bad7941a61b9c1c17d47f6eed36cd04)