DTD vs XSD: Difference and Comparison

DTD (Document Type Definition) and XSD (XML Schema Definition) are both related to a markup language known as XML (Extensible Markup Language).

Since most of the client machines require getting data from the server, XML is an effective method of fetching it. Although both DTD and XSD are related to the same markup language, XML, they differ from each other in a lot of aspects. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Document Type Definition (DTD) and XML Schema Definition (XSD) define the structure and rules for XML documents.
  2. DTD is an older, simpler standard with limited data types and no support for XML namespaces. At the same time, XSD is a more robust standard with support for complex data types, XML namespaces, and extensibility.
  3. XSD is generally preferred for its versatility and stronger validation capabilities, whereas DTD may be used in simpler, legacy applications.


A document type definition (DTD) is a set of markup declarations that define the structure, legal elements, and attributes of an XML document type for SGML. XSD describes the rules and constraints for elements in an XML document. It is extensible and supports data types and default values.


DTD stands for Document Type Definition. It is a type of document that is used to define the structure of an XML (Extensible Markup Language) document.


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XSD stands for XML Schema Definition. It is a way that is used to describe the structure and content of an XML document. XSD was first published in 2001 and was again brought back in 2004.

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison     DTD     XSD 
Full-form  DTD stands for Document Type Definition XSD stands for XML Schema Definition. 
Written in DTD is derived from SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) syntax. XSD is written in XML  
Features DTD can be used to define the structure of an XML document. XSD can be used to describe the structure and contents of an XML document. 
Control  DTD has less control over XML. XSD provides better control over XML. 
Capability  DTD does not support Namespace and datatypes. XSD supports Namespace and datatypes.  
Learning   DTD is not easy to learn. XSD is easy to learn because here we do not need to learn a new language. 
Extensible  DTD is not extensible.  XSD is extensible. 

What is DTD? 

DTD stands for Document Type Definition and is a type of document that is used to define the structure of an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file.

DTD can further be divided into two parts, namely, external DTD and internal DTD. The DTD elements declared within the XML file are known as internal DTD, whereas the DTD elements declared in some other files are known as external DTD.   

DTD is derived from SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) syntax. It does not support Namespace and Datatypes and has less control over XML. DTD is also not extensible.  

However, it does, at times, act as the extended version of the XML. DTD is not simple to learn. DTD is precisely declarations that define a document type for SGML. 

What is XSD? 

XSD stands for XML Schema Definition and is a way that is used to describe and content of an XML (Extensible Markup Language) document.

XSD files are of two types, namely, simple Type and complex Type. The Type, which allows having text-based elements and contains fewer attributes child elements, and cannot be left empty, is known as the simple Type XSD.

XML is used for writing XSD. It supports Namespace and Datatypes for elements and attributes. XSD is extensible and gives us more control over the XML document.  

XSD is precisely used to describe the elements in an XML document. Learning XSD is comparatively easier than that of DTD because here, we do not need to learn a new language.  

Main Differences Between DTD and XSD. 

  1.  DTD has less control over XML, whereas XSD provides more control over XML.  
  2. DTD is comparatively harder to learn than XSD, whereas XSD is simple to learn, as here we do not need to learn a new language.  
Difference Between DTD and XSD
  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/1017074.1017095 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095070510600150X 

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