Making a Reference Page

The reference page or manual page in DocBook was inspired by, and in fact designed to reproduce, the common UNIX manpage concept. (We use the word page loosely here to mean a document of variable length containing reference material on a specific topic.) DocBook is rich in markup tailored for such documents, which often vary greatly in content, however well structured they may be. To reflect both the structure and the variability of such texts, DocBook specifies that reference pages have a strict sequence of parts, even though several of them are actually optional.

Of the following sequence of elements that may appear in a refentry, only two are obligatory: refnamediv and either refsect1 or refsection.


The info element contains meta-information about the reference page (which should not be confused with refmeta, which it precedes). It marks up information about the author of the document, or the product to which it pertains, or the document’s revision history, or other such information.


refmeta contains a title for the reference page (which may be inferred if the refmeta element is not present) and an indication of the volume number in which this reference page occurs. The manvolnum is a very UNIX-centric concept. In traditional UNIX documentation, the subject of a reference page is typically identified by name and volume number; this allows you to distinguish between the uname command, uname(1) in volume 1 of the documentation, and the uname ...

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