License Information

Use the license element to provide information about the licensing terms of the material in a page or section. The href attribute can be used to uniquely identify certain licenses.


  • The license element can contain any general block content.

  • The license element can occur in any info element.

  • The style attribute takes a space-separated list of style hints. Processing tools should adjust their behavior according to those style hints they understand.

  • The href attribute can be used to provide a URI which uniquely identifies the license terms.

  • The license element can have attributes from external namespaces. See External Namespaces for more information on external-namespace attributes.


Use license to put a page under a Creative Commons license:

<p>This work is licensed under a
<link href="">Creative
Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License</link>.</p>

Processing Expectations

The license element is not necessarily displayed on the page in which it appears. Some tools may display license information on a separate informational page or dialog. When it is displayed, its contents are treated as block content.

There is no requirement that the URI in the href attribute will actually be displayed, or that the href attribute will cause a link to be displayed. If authors wish to ensure that an external resource is linked to, they should add a link into the block content. Processing tools may recognize certain license URIs for special processing. This could be used, for instance, to place a license badge at the bottom of a displayed page for certain common licenses.

Comparison to Other Formats

DocBook contains the more general-purpose legalnotice element, which is frequently used to include licensing terms. The license element is intended mostly for redistribution terms, which are not immediately relevant to most readers. When it is important that readers see certain legal information, authors should provide that information in the main content, possibly on a separate page.

DITA does not provide an element to specify terms of use or redistribution.


The formal definition of the Mallard language is maintained in RELAX NG Compact Syntax in code blocks within this specification. This is the formal definition for the license element. The namespace declarations for this definition are on the page Pages.

mal_info_license = element license {
  mal_info_license_content +
mal_info_license_attr = (
  attribute style { xsd:NMTOKENS } ?,
  attribute href { text } ?,
  mal_attr_external *
mal_info_license_content = mal_block