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Introduction to XSL-FO


May 28, 2021 12:00 XSL-FO


Table of contents


Introduction to XSL-FO


XSL-FO is called Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects (extensible style sheet language for formatted objects).

XSL-FO is used to format XML data for output.


Basics that should be available before learning

Before you learn XSL-FO, you should have a basic understanding of XML and XML namespaces.

If you want to learn about these projects first, read our XML tutorial.


What is XSL-FO?

  • XSL-FO is the language used to format XML data
  • XSL-FO refers to extensible style sheet language formatting objects (Extensible Stylesheet Formatting Objects)
  • XSL-FO is based on XML
  • XSL-FO is a W3C recommendation
  • XSL-FO is often referred to as XSL

XSL-FO is related to formatting

XSL-FO is an XML-based markup language that describes formatting (information) that outputs XML data to screens, paper, or other media.


XSL-FO is often referred to as XSL

Why is there such confusion? Is XSL-FO the same thing as XSL?

So to speak, but we need to explain to you:

Styled (Styling) is about converting information and formatting information. When the World Wide Web Federation (W3C) wrote their first draft XSL work, it included language syntax for converting and formatting XML documents.

Later, the W3C Working Group divided the original draft into separate criteria:

  • XSLT, which is used to transform the language of an XML document
  • XSL or XSL-FO, the language used to format XML documents
  • XPath is the language in which elements and properties navigate through XML documents

The rest of this tutorial is about formatting XML documents: XSL-FO, also known as XSL.


XSL-FO is a web standard

XSL-FO was established as the W3C recommended standard on October 15, 2001. Often referred to as XSL.

To read more about the XSL event at W3C, read our W3C tutorial.

In the next section, we'll begin to learn about the use of XSL-FO.