Logical Divisions: The Categories of Elements in DocBook

DocBook elements can be divided broadly into these categories:

Divisions, which divide books
Components, which divide books or divisions
Sections, which subdivide components
Meta-information elements
Block elements
Inline elements

In the rest of this section, we’ll describe briefly the elements that make up these categories. This section is designed to give you an overview. It is not an exhaustive list of every element in DocBook.

For more information about any specific element and the elements that it may contain, consult the reference page for the element in question.


A set contains two or more books. It’s the hierarchical top of DocBook. You use the set tag, for example, for a series of books on a single subject that you want to access and maintain as a single unit, such as the manuals for series of computer systems or the documentation (tutorial, reference, etc.) for a programming language. Sets are allowed to contain other sets, though this is not common.


A book is probably the most common top-level element in a document. The DocBook definition of a book is very loose and general. Given the variety of books authored with DocBook and the number of different conventions for book organization used around the world, any attempt to impose a strict ordering of elements would make the content model extremely complex. Therefore, DocBook gives you free rein. You can use a local customization (see Chapter 5) if you want ...

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