What Is Structure of XML Data?


Larry Thompson

XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a popular markup language used for storing and transporting structured data. It provides a flexible and self-descriptive way to represent information in a hierarchical structure. Understanding the structure of XML data is fundamental to effectively working with XML documents.


In XML, data is organized into elements. An element consists of an opening tag, content, and a closing tag.

The opening tag starts with a less-than symbol (<), followed by the element name, and ends with a greater-than symbol (>). The closing tag starts with ). For example:

    <title>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</title>
    <author>J.K. Rowling</author>

In this example, the book element contains two child elements: title and author. Each child element has its own content enclosed within its respective opening and closing tags.


An attribute provides additional information about an element. It is specified within the opening tag of an element using the syntax attributeName=”attributeValue”. For example:

<book category="Fantasy">

In this example, the category attribute is added to the book element, specifying that it belongs to the “Fantasy” category.

Nesting Elements

XML allows elements to be nested within other elements, creating a hierarchical structure. This nesting enables the representation of complex data relationships. For example:

        <title>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</title>
        <author>J. Rowling</author>
        <title>The Hobbit</title>
        <author>J.R. Tolkien</author>

In this example, we have a library element containing two nested book elements. Each book has its own title and author.

Self-Closing Elements

In XML, some elements don’t have content and are self-closed using a forward slash (/) before the closing angle bracket (>). For example:

<image src="example.jpg"/>

In this example, the image element doesn’t have any content but includes an attribute called src that specifies the image source.

Document Structure

An XML document always has a single root element that contains all other elements. This root element serves as the starting point for navigating and accessing the data within the XML document.



In this example, library is the root element that encompasses the entire XML document.


In summary, XML data is structured using elements, attributes, nesting, and self-closing tags. Elements are the building blocks of XML documents and consist of opening and closing tags. Attributes provide additional information about elements.

Nesting allows for hierarchical representation of data relationships. Self-closing elements are used when an element has no content. Understanding these structural components is essential for effectively working with XML data.

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