Application Names

Use the app element to mark up the human-readable name of an application or the title of a window within an application. Do not use the app element to mark up the command used to run an application; use cmd for this purpose instead.


  • The app element can contain a mixture of text and any general inline elements.

  • The app element can occur in any general inline context, including inside most inline elements, some basic block elements, and certain informational elements.

  • The app element can link to other pages or documents. See Ubiquitous Linking for more information.

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


Use app to mark up the name of an application:

To start <app>Totem Movie Player</app>, enter <cmd>totem</cmd> at
the command line.

To start Totem Movie Player, enter totem at the command line.

Use app to refer to a window:

Use the <app>Theme Preferences</app> window to adjust the look of
your desktop.

Use the Theme Preferences window to adjust the look of your desktop.

Processing Expectations

Application names are usually nouns, and are often common words or phrases that are indicative of their functionality. Frequently, they are simply the name of what the application is. In English and many other languages, the use of an application name in a sentence may sound like the author has simply mistakenly omitted an article, if the application name is not understood to be a title.

For example, the calculator application that comes with GNOME is called Calculator. If an author were to write “To start Calculator…”, then a reader may confuse this for “To start the calculator…” with an error. This is even more pronounced in languages such as German where nouns are always capitalized.

For this reason, it is recommended that application names marked with the app element are rendered in italics or using some other font variation. Authors who do not wish to have an application name stylized can use plain text without markup.

Comparison to Other Formats

The app element is similar to the application element in DocBook.

There is no specific element for marking up application names in DITA. DITA provides the wintitle element for marking up the title of a window. In some cases, such as when the window is a standalone control panel, you may use the app element for this purpose. Some authors, however, prefer marking up window titles with the gui element.


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 app element. The namespace declarations for this definition are on the page Pages.

mal_inline_app = element app {
mal_inline_app_attr = (
  mal_attr_link *,
  attribute style { xsd:NMTOKENS } ?,
  mal_attr_external *
mal_inline_app_inline = mal_inline
© 2007-2011 Shaun McCance
cc-by-sa 3.0 (us)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

As a special exception, the copyright holders give you permission to copy, modify, and distribute the example code contained in this document under the terms of your choosing, without restriction.

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