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According to the W3C:

A DTD, or document type definition, is a collection of XML markup declarations that, as a collection, defines the legal structure, elements, and attributes that are available for use in a document that complies to the DTD.


Using XHTML Strict as an example, one would insert the following at the head of the document. This would tell user-agents what sort of document this was and in what terms to interpret it.

<!DOCTYPE html 
     PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"


Keep in mind that DTDs have nothing to do with browsers and XHTML as such. XHTML is one small family of innumerable DTDs and browsers are just one interpretative application. A spreadsheet file format may be in XML and a spreadsheet application may render that data and so on.

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