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DocBook: The Definitive Guide

DocBook: The Definitive Guide

By Norman Walsh & Leonard Muellner
1st Edition October 1999
1-56592-580-7, Order Number: 5807
652 pages, $36.95 , Includes CD-ROM



RefDescriptor -- A description of the topic of a reference page


Mixed Content Model

RefDescriptor ::=


Common attributes

Tag Minimization

The start-tag is required for this element. The end-tag is optional, if your SGML declaration allows minimization.


Reference pages (RefEntrys) are usually identified by a short, succinct topic name, such as the name of a function or command. The RefName (or one of the RefNames, in the case of a reference page that has several) is generally used as the topic name. When none of the RefNames is appropriate, RefDescriptor is used to specify the topic name.

RefDescriptor is unnecessary when an appropriate RefName can be selected automatically. At least one RefName is required, so RefDescriptor cannot be used in place of a name, only in addition to it.

Processing expectations

May be formatted inline or as a displayed block, depending on context.

Formatting reference pages may require a fairly sophisticated processing system. Much of the meta-information about a reference page (its name, type, purpose, title, and classification) is stored in wrappers near the beginning of the RefEntry.

Common presentational features, such as titles and running heads, may require data from several of these wrappers plus some generated text. Other formatting often requires that these elements be reordered.

If a RefDescriptor is present, it should be used for the short topic name. This name usually appears in the running header along with the ManVolNum in print media. It may also appear in tables of contents and the index.

(4.0) Future Changes

The InterfaceDefinition element will be discarded in DocBook V4.0. It will no longer be available in the content model of this element.


These elements contain RefDescriptor: RefNameDiv.

See Also

RefEntryTitle, RefName


For examples, see RefEntry.

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