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Variable List (Description List)

A variable list is a list where each entry has one or more terms and a description. They have many potential uses, but are often used for explanations of technical terms or jargon. When published, they are shown in rows and columns, so they look like a borderless table, but they do not have the underlying structure of a table. For HTML outputs, they use description list HTML tags (<dl>, <dt> and <dd>).

Example of a variable list in PDF output. It looks like a table with no borders or lines and each row has a term and a description.

Example of a variable list in PDF output.


Variable lists have no relation to variable sets or variable content. The term variable list comes from the DocBook specification, where variablelist is the name of the element for this type of list.

To find out about variable sets and variable content, see Variables.

The variablelist element is a "container" for all of your terms and descriptions.

  • The variablelist has a title. This is optional and if you do not want it, you can remove it and the variablelist will still be valid.

  • Each term(s) and description pair go inside a varlistentry element

  • Each term consists of a term element. You add the term text directly inside this element, there is no para.

  • Each description consists of a listitem element and a para element inside it. You add your description text inside the para element.

To create a variable list (description list):

  1. Create a new topic or edit an existing one by selecting it in the Content Manager.

  2. Position the cursor where the variable list is to be inserted.

  3. Press Alt + Enter ⏎ (Windows) or Command ⌘ + Enter ⏎ (Mac) to display the Element Context Menu.

  4. Enter variablelist and select it from the menu.

    Variablelist elements added to a Paligo topic.

    Paligo automatically adds a title for the variable list, one term and one description.

  5. Enter a text for the title (or remove it).

  6. Enter a text for the term and listitem (its description).

  7. Position the cursor at the end of the description and press Enter to add another term.

    Cursor is positioned at end of description in a variable list. Press enter at this position to create a new term and description pair.

    Paligo adds another pair (term and description) to the list.

  8. To end the list, position the cursor after the variablelist.

    Cursor is positioned outside the list, after the last term and description pair.

    From this position, you can, if needed, use the element context menu to add additional content.

  9. Select Save. Save icon.