Rules for Creating Document Type Definition, or DTD, Elements

By Lucinda Dykes, Ed Tittel

Part of XML For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Basically, you prepare and use a Document Type Definition (DTD) to add structure and logic, making it easier to ensure that all essential features are present — in the right order — in your XML document. You may develop many rules in your DTD that control how elements can be used in an XML document.

Symbol Meaning Example
#PCDATA Contains parsed character data or text <element (#PCDATA)>
#PCDATA, element-name Contains text and another element; #PCDATA is always listed first in a rule <element (#PCDATA,
child)*>
, (comma) Must use in this order <element (child1, child2,
child3)>
| (pipe bar) Use only one element of the choices provided <element (child1 | child2 |
child3)>
element-name (by itself) Use one time only <element (child)>
element-name? Use either once or not at all <element (child1, child2?,
child3?)>
element-name+ Use either once or many times <element (child1+, child2?,
child3)>
element-name* Use once, many times, or not at all <element (child1*, child2+,
child3)>
( ) Indicates groups; may be nested <element (#PCDATA | child)*> or
<element ((child1*, child2+, child3)* |
child4)>