variablelist — A list in which each entry is composed of a set of one or more terms and an associated description.


variablelist ::=


Common attributes and common linking attributes.

Additional attributes:

  • spacing (enumeration)
    • “compact”
    • “normal”
  • termlength


A variablelist is a list consisting of terms and their definitions or descriptions.

Processing expectations

Formatted as a displayed block.

There are many ways to present a variable list. DocBook does not mandate any particular presentation. The termlength attribute may influence the presentation of terms. The termlength attribute is often specified as a number of characters, but other forms are possible. This is an interchange issue.


Common attributes and common linking attributes.


Specifies (a hint about) the spacing of the content

Enumerated values:

The spacing should be "compact".


The spacing should be "normal".


Indicates a length beyond which the presentation system may consider a term too long and select an alternate presentation for that term, item, or list


These elements contain variablelist: abstract, appendix, bibliodiv, bibliography, blockquote, caption (db.caption), entry, example, figure, footnote, html:fieldset, html:form, itemizedlist, legalnotice, listitem, note, orderedlist, revdescription, section, sidebar, td, textobject, th, variablelist, webpage.


The following elements occur in variablelist: blockquote, epigraph, example, figure, html:form, info (, info (, informaltable (db.cals.informaltable), informaltable (db.html.informaltable), itemizedlist, literallayout, mediaobject, note, orderedlist, para, programlisting, revhistory, sidebar, table (db.cals.table), table (db.html.table), title, titleabbrev, variablelist, varlistentry, webtoc.

See Also

Related elements: itemizedlist, listitem, orderedlist.


 1 |<article xmlns=''>
   |  <title>Example variablelist</title>
   | <variablelist><title>Font Filename Extensions</title>
 5 |  <varlistentry>
   |    <term><filename>TTF</filename></term>
   |    <listitem>
   |      <para>TrueType fonts.</para>
   |    </listitem>
10 |  </varlistentry>
   |  <varlistentry>
   |    <term><filename>PFA</filename></term>
   |    <term><filename>PFB</filename></term>
   |    <listitem>
15 |      <para>
   |        PostScript fonts. <filename>PFA</filename> files are common
   |        on <acronym>UNIX</acronym> systems, <filename>PFB</filename>
   |        files are more common on Windows systems.
   |      </para>
20 |    </listitem>
   |  </varlistentry>
   | </variablelist>
Font Filename Extensions

TrueType fonts.


PostScript fonts. PFA files are common on UNIX systems, PFB files are more common on Windows systems.