DAISY—About the Structure Guidelines

DAISY—About the Structure Guidelines


Changes Found 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, also 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 have significantly impacted visually impaired and print disabled readers. Not only do they have access to more information, they also have access to structured information that can be used more effectively. Analogue recordings on multiple audio tapes have been replaced with high-quality digital recordings on a single media that have structure and allow navigation throughout 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. Ultimately readers who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled will benefit.

This set of guidelines 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.


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 minimum 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 a close relationship between information objects and DTBook elements, not all information objects are DTBook elements.

NIMAS Considerations

The 2008 revision of the DAISY Structure Guidelines incorporates markup examples for NIMAS, the federally-mandated U.S. National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard which identifies the minimum set of required elements from the DAISY/NISO Z39.86 Standard (the DAISY Standard) which make up the NIMAS Standard. In the U.S., textbook publishers produce K-12 textbooks in both print and electronic format. The required electronic format is DTBook; NIMAS requirements conform to the DTBook DTD, upon which the DAISY Standard is based.

The Creating NIMAS Files document available at the NIMAS Web site provides practical information about creating NIMAS file sets and includes some examples of mark-up of NIMAS XML files. Definitions for each element in the Standard can be found in the NIMAS Technical Specification. This revision of the DAISY 3 Structure Guidelines incorporates the addition of examples for each element in the NIMAS technical specification in order to assist U.S.-based publishers in the production of NIMAS files.

Many of the print constructs in textbooks can be confusing and it can be difficult to determine the correct markup approach. It is hoped that the greatly expanded set of markup examples and corresponding images of the print pages provided in this revision will clarify any potential ambiguities for both DAISY and NIMAS book production.

Multiple illustrated examples are given for each DTBook element, demonstrating the application of the elements for print publications. Each Illustrated Example includes three sections:

  1. Page Sample—image of the page
  2. Sample Code—where the example is marked up to the DAISY Standard
  3. Comments and Alternative NIMAS Examples—contains a note indicating whether the specific element is optional or required in NIMAS.

Note: as a subset of the DAISY Standard, not all of the DTBook elements in that Standard are required in NIMAS formatted books—some are optional.

Although publishers in the U.S. producing K-12 textbooks are required to provide electronic versions of their publications in NIMAS format, it is hoped that with the aid of the DAISY Structure Guidelines and the NIMAS Guidelines, that they will incorporate full DAISY Standard markup, providing books that are as feature-rich and accessible as possible. Until that time, the alternate examples which are presented in the 2008 version of the DAISY 3 Structure Guidelines will provide guidance for publishers enabling them to meet the minimum legal requirements for NIMAS compliance.