DL - Definition Lists
Permitted Context: %Body.Content, %flow, %block
Model: Optional list header(LH),
followed by one or more terms(DT) and definitions(DD).
A definition list is a list of terms and corresponding definitions.
Definition lists are typically formatted with the term on the left with
the definition following on the right or on the next line. The
definition text is typically indented with respect to the term.
An alternative format places the term left aligned in a wide margin
and the definition on one or more lines to the right of the term. If
the DT term does not fit in the DT column (one third of the display
area), it may be extended across the page with the DD section moved to
the next line, or it may be wrapped onto successive lines of the left
The opening list tag must be <DL>. It is followed by an optional
list header (<LH>caption</LH>) and then by term names
(<DT>) and definitions (<DD>). For example:
<DT>Term 1<dd>This is the definition of the first term.
<DT>Term 2<dd>This is the definition of the second term.
which could be rendered as:
- Term 1
- This is the definition of the first term.
- Term 2
- This is the definition of the second term.
The definition list element can take the COMPACT attribute, which
suggests that a compact rendering be used, and is appropriate if the
list elements are small and/or the entire list is large.
Note: Use the NOTE element when you
want to have an indented note. The practice of using <DD> elements
without corresponding <DT> elements is deprecated.
Permitted Attributes for the DL Element
- An SGML identifier used as the target for hypertext
links or for naming particular elements in associated style sheets.
Identifiers are NAME tokens and must be unique within the scope of the
- This is one of the ISO standard language abbreviations,
e.g. "en.uk" for the variation of English spoken in the United Kingdom.
It can be used by parsers to select language specific choices for
quotation marks, ligatures and hypenation rules etc. The language
attribute is composed from the two letter language code from ISO 639,
optionally followed by a period and a two letter country code from ISO
- This a space separated list of SGML NAME tokens and is
used to subclass tag names. By convention, the class names are
interpreted hierarchically, with the most general class on the left
and the most specific on the right, where classes are separated by a
period. The CLASS attribute is most commonly used to attach a
different style to some element, but it is recommended that where
practical class names should be picked on the basis of the element's
semantics, as this will permit other uses, such as restricting search
through documents by matching on element class names. The conventions
for choosing class names are outside the scope of this specification.
- This attribute is common to all block-like elements. When
text flows around a figure or table in the margin, you sometimes want
to start an element like a header, paragraph or list below the figure
rather than alongside it. The CLEAR attribute allows you to move down
- move down until left margin is clear
- move down until right margin is clear
- move down until both margins are clear
Alternatively, you can decide to place the element alongside the
figure just so long as there is enough room. The minimum width needed
is specified as:
- clear="40 en"
- move down until there is at least 40 en units free
- clear="100 pixels"
- move down until there is at least 100 pixels
The style sheet (or browser defaults) may provide default minimum
widths for each class of block-like elements.
- The presence of this attribute indicates the user agent
should use reduced interitem spacing. The COMPACT attribute may also
reduce the width of the left-hand (DT) column.
In practice, there are several ways to increase the compactness of
lists: reduced vertical interitem spacing, smaller font size, or even
to avoid line breaks between items. This is best handled through
associated style sheets and the class attribute.
The opening list tag must be DL COMPACT. It must be immediately
followed by the first term (DT). For example:
<DT>Term<DD>This is the first definition in compact format.
<DT>Term<DD>This is the second definition in compact format.