General Introduction

This “Tag Library” is provided as a service to users of ANSI/NISO Z39.96-2011, JATS: Journal Article Tag Suite; the Tag Library is not part of NISO Z39.96. It contains non-normative information that is intended to be helpful to users of NISO Z39.96, including:
  • Remarks on usage and relationships among elements and attributes;
  • Structural Diagrams, showing the element hierarchy;
  • Tagging examples;
  • Best practice recommendations;
  • Implementation advice;
  • Discussion of accessibility and the Tag Suite; and
  • Pointers to (non-normative) downloadable versions of DTDs, XSDs, and RNGs that implement the NISO JATS Tag Sets.
The intent of the Journal Article Tag Suite is to provide a common format in which publishers and archives can exchange journal content. The Suite provides a set of XML schema modules that define elements and attributes for describing the textual and graphical content of journal articles as well as some non-article material such as letters, editorials, and book and product reviews.

Introduction to the Article Authoring Tag Set


The Article Authoring Tag Set (“Authoring”) creates a standardized format for new journal articles that can be used by authors to submit publications to journals and to archives such as PubMed Central. While in theory the document scope is the same as for the Publishing Tag Set, in practice Authoring defines elements and attributes that describe the content of typical research-style journal articles.
This is a Tag Set optimized for authorship of new journal articles, where regularization and control of content is important, and where it is useful rather than harmful to have only one way to tag a structure. Therefore, Authoring is more prescriptive than descriptive and includes many elements whose content must occur in a specified order.
Since an author is assumed to be creating and submitting an article for submission to a journal or journals, no publishing history or journal-specific information has been included in this Authoring Tag Set.
Since no assumptions can be made concerning the processing software or editorial situation that will receive an article authored in this Tag Set, tagging that forces specific formatting has also been avoided. There is no way for an author to number his/her lists explicitly, for example, or to manually number the cited references, since many journals have their own citation policies and publication styles. Numbers for the cited references must be generated by the publisher’s software to match editorial policy and established practice.


By design, this is a model for journal articles, such as the typical research article found in an STM journal, and not a model for complete journals. This Tag Set does not include an overarching model for a collection of articles. In addition, the following journal material is not described by this Tag Set:
  • Company, product, or service display advertising
  • Job search or classified advertising
  • Calendars, meeting schedules, and conference announcements (except as these can be tagged as ordinary articles, sub-articles, or sections within articles)
  • Material specific to an individual journal, such as Author Guidelines, Policy and Scope statements, editorial or advisory boards, detailed indicia, etc.

Structural Overview

The Article Authoring Tag Set defines a document that is a top-level component of a journal such as an article, a book or product review, or a letter to the editor. Each such document is composed of one or more parts; if there is more than one part, they must appear in the following order:
  • Front matter (required). The article front matter contains the metadata for the article (also called article header information), for example, the article title, the names of the contributor(s), and the abstract. This is not textual front matter as appears in books, rather this is bibliographic information about the article.
  • Body of the article (required). The body of the article is the main textual and graphic content of the article. This usually consists of paragraphs and sections, which may themselves contain figures, tables, sidebars (boxed text), etc.
  • Back matter for the article (optional). If present, the article back matter contains information that is ancillary to the main text, such as a glossary, appendix, or list of cited references.

Tag Sets Developed from the Suite

XML schemas (DTDs, XSDs, and RNGs) are provided for 2 different variations of the Authoring Tag Set:
  • Authoring Tag Set using XHTML tables and MathML 2.0
  • Authoring Tag Set using XHTML tables and MathML 3.0
This Authoring Tag Set is one of several created from the Suite. Information about the other Tag Sets may be found at the following site:

How to Read This Tag Library

Terms and Definitions

Elements are nouns, like “speech” and “speaker”, that represent components of journal articles, the articles themselves, and accompanying metadata.
Attributes hold facts about an element, such as which type of list (e.g., numbered, bulleted, or plain) is being requested when using the List (<list>) tag, or the name of a pointer to an external file that contains an image. Each attribute has both a name (e.g., @list-type) and a value (e.g., “bullet”).
Data about the data, for example, bibliographic information. The distinction is between metadata elements which describe an article (such as author and the title of the article) versus elements which contain the textual and graphical content of the article.

How To Start Using This Tag Library

How you use the documentation will depend on what you need to learn about the modules and this Tag Set.

Learn this Tag Set

If you want to learn about the elements and the attributes in this Tag Set so you can tag documents or learn how the journal article model is constructed, here is a good way to start.
  • Read the Tag Library General Introduction, taking particular note of the next section that describes the parts of the Tag Library so you will know what resources are available.
  • If you do not know the symbols used in the Document Hierarchy diagrams, then read the “Key to the Near & Far® Diagrams”.
  • Scan the Document Hierarchy diagrams to get a good sense of the top-level elements and their contents. (Find what is inside an <article>, now what is inside each of the three large pieces of an article, keep working your way down.)
  • Pick an element from one of the diagrams. Look up the element in the Elements Section to find the full name of the element, its definition, usage notes, content allowed, and any attributes. Look up one of the attributes to find its full name, usage notes, and potential values.
Finally, if you are interested in conversion from a particular source:
  • Look at an article in a printed or online journal or look at the DTD/schema for the other journal.
    • Can all the information you want to store from an article fit into the models shown in the diagrams?
    • Do you have, or know how to get, all the information the models require? Will that information always be available for documents that are complete and correct?
    • How difficult will it be to identify the parts of the information using the elements and attributes described in these models? Would changes to one or more models make this easier?
  • Now look at some non-article content, such as a news column, a book review, or some letters to the editor. Are there tags to handle all these article types and all their components?

Structure of This Tag Library

This Tag Library contains the following sections:
How To Use (Read Me First)
How to make best use of this Tag Library to reference XML tags, become familiar with the Authoring Tag Set as a whole, or see examples of recommended usage.
Root Element
Naming the <article> element as the root of this XML schema (DTD, XSD, RNG).
General Introduction
This introduction to the contents of this Tag Library, to the design philosophy and intended usage of the JATS DTD Suite, and to the Article Authoring Tag Set.
Selecting a Model & Schema
Describing the variant JATS schemas and how to choose the right one for your implementation.
Elements Section
Descriptions of the elements used in the Article Authoring Tag Set and the parts of the JATS DTD Suite used in this Tag Set. The element descriptions are listed in alphabetical order by tag name.
[Note: Each element has two names: a “tag name” (formally called an element-type name) that is used in tagged documents, in the DTDs/schemas, and by XML software; and an “element name” (usually longer) that provides a fuller, more descriptive name for the benefit of human readers. For example, a tag name might be <disp-quote> with the corresponding element name Quote, Displayed, or a tag name might be <verse-group> with the corresponding element name Verse Form for Poetry.]
Attributes Section
Descriptions of the attributes in the Article Authoring Tag Set. Like elements, attributes also have two names: the shorter machine-readable one and a (usually longer) human-readable one. Attributes are listed in order by the shorter, machine-readable names. For example, the attribute short name @list-type instead of the more informal, easier to read: Type of List.
Parameter Entities Section
Names (with occasional descriptions) and contents of the parameter entities in the JATS DTD modules.
Document Hierarchy Diagrams
Tree-like graphical representations of the content of many elements. This can be a fast, visual way to determine the structure of an article or of any element within an article.
Full Article Sample
One full article is provided in both PDF format and in XML according to this Tag Set. This is provided to help users understand the relationship between the article as displayed and the XML version of the article.
Common Tagging Practice
Tips, tricks, hints, and examples of how (and why) to tag certain structures using this Tag Set.
Brief description of how NISO JATS approaches the 508 and WCAG 2.0 Accessibility issues.
Modifying This Tag Set
Implementor’s instructions for using this Tag Set, customizing this Tag Set, or making derivative tag sets based on this one.
Version 1.1 Change Report
Pointer to the description of the changes made in response to the public comments on the JATS Standing Committee Draft Versions 1.1d1, 1.1d2, and 1.1d3 received through the end of November 2015, that resulted in this NISO JATS version 1.1 Tag Set (Z39.96-2015).
Element Context Table
A listing of where each element may be used. All elements in this Tag Set are given in a single alphabetical list.
The Element Context Table is formatted in two columns. The first column (“This Element”) names an element, with the name shown in pointy brackets. In the second column (“May Be Contained In”) for each element is an alphabetical list of all the elements in which the first column element may occur. For example, if the first column contains the element <front> and the second column contains only the <article> element, this means that the <front> element may only be used directly inside an <article>. Most elements may be used inside more than one other element. For example, the element <def> (a definition) may be used inside the <abbrev> and the <def-item> elements.
The Element Context Table contains the same information that is found on each element page under the heading “This element may be contained in:”.
Where to find elements, tags, and terms used in this Tag Library. Includes synonyms (terms not used in this Tag Set) that direct the reader to elements used in this Tag Library; for example, “author” is paired with Contributor <contrib>.
Supporting Documentation Home
The Article Authoring Tag Set is available in three forms: an XML Document Type Definition (DTD), a W3C XML Schema (XSD), and a RELAX NG Schema (RNG). Each of these formats is available in two forms: a zipped file containing a downloadable version of the schema (often in multiple files), and a readable/browsable version in which the internal markup has been escaped.

Tag Library Typographic Conventions

<alt-text> The tag name of an element (written in lower case with the entire name surrounded by “< >”)
Alternate Text Name (for a figure, etc.) The element name (long descriptive name of an element) or the descriptive name of an attribute (written in title case, with important words capitalized, and the words separated by spaces)
@nameThe “@” sign before a name indicates an attribute name.
must not Emphasis to stress a point


We thank, Molecular Biology of the Cell, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. for providing many of the sample articles used in this Tag Library.