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DAISY 3 Structure Guidelines
Last Revised: June 4, 2008

Changes in the 2005 and 2008 Revisions of These Guidelines

Changes in the DAISY/NISO Standard and in the 2005 DTD that affect the Structure Guidelines are indicated throughout by New in the 2005 release of the DAISY Standard.

The 2008 Revision of the DAISY Structure Guidelines includes print page examples with corresponding markup. Related comments and alternative examples for NIMAS are included. The option to "show" or "hide" the examples is provided.

An "Index of Elements" which provides both a list of all elements in alphabetical order and DTBook attributes, in alphabetic order, has been added. These are linked to the specific element or attribute in the body of the Structure Guidelines. This section has been added to provide a faster and easier way to locate specific elements and attributes.

Two new sections have been added to the 2008 Revision: Poetry, and, Mathematics.

A section "NIMAS Miscellaneous Items" specific to NIMAS has also been included in the 2008 Revision. General information that may not be specific to elements or attributes but which may be helpful to publishers or producers dealing with NIMAS files is included in this new miscellaneous section.

The Advantages of Digital Information Technology

Throughout the world, libraries serving individuals who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled are changing their technological platform from analogue to digital audio. The results of this transition will significantly impact visually impaired and print disabled readers. Not only will they have access to more information, they will have access to structured information that can be used more effectively. Analogue recordings on multiple audio tapes will be replaced with high-quality digital recordings on a single media that have structure and allow navigation through the publication.


Establishing standards for applying structure is a necessity in the international exchange of information. A single standard will facilitate the exchange of digital talking books (DTBs) regardless of where they are produced. Global consensus on the organization and structure of DTBs may impact future developments in recording and playback software and devices. Ultimately readers who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled will benefit.

This document provides information on the correct application of the XML element set DTBook, a key segment of the DAISY/NISO standard, formally the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 standard, Specifications for the Digital Talking Book. Links to the standard and information on its development and use can be found at http://www.daisy.org/z3986/. When a DAISY/NISO DTB (henceforth referred to as DAISY DTB) includes a textual content file containing part or all of the contents of a publication, DTBook elements will be used to mark up that file. The resulting file must be valid to the XML Document Type Definition, the DTBook DTD, as specified in the DAISY/NISO Specification. The file will be synchronized with the corresponding audio file to allow synchronized presentation of content in multiple formats (audio, braille, enlarged type, etc.)


In principle, the DAISY DTB should be a faithful representation of a published work to ensure that visually impaired and print-disabled readers have access to the same information as the reader of the original print publication. The Structure Guidelines conform to principles laid out in the "Statement of Principles for the Creation and Production of Accessible Books and Materials".

The DAISY Consortium recommends that structure, at a mimimum level of that of the print publication, be applied to any DAISY DTB containing a textual content file. However, extensive markup may demand significant resources. The level of structure and markup chosen by the producer will therefore depend upon striking a balance between the resources available, the requirements of the publication, and the needs of the visually impaired and print-disabled readers.

It may sometimes be difficult to incorporate the exact structure and content of a given print publication into a DTB. In such cases the Structure Guidelines provide the necessary flexibility for producers to apply solutions that they determine are best suited to creating a DTB version.


Throughout these Guidelines the terms of the book printing and publishing world are used. The key reference is The Chicago Manual of Style. The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers. 14th edition. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1993.

The term "Information Object" is used in these Guidelines to identify structural elements commonly found in printed books. DTBook elements were developed to reflect print book structures. However, not all structures in print books are DTBook elements. Although there is close relationship between information objects and DTBook elements, not all information objects are DTBook elements.