The <title> element in DITA is pervasive; you find it not only as the title for a map or topic but also as the title for figures, tables, linklists, and sections/examples (and less obviously in the data element, where it is available for various specializations of that metadata element). Topic titles are the only case in DITA in which the representation of the title might change as topics are nested; all other uses represent labels, and thus generally have consistent representation as bolded phrases rather than as heading elements. And yes, that means that the titles of examples can be extended to behave like lists of figures and lists of tables, if needed, and the same for section titles (which are particularly conducive for being specialized as blurbs and other inline exhibits).
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What is the smallest topic in DITA? Try:
<topic id="uniqueID"> <title>title content</title> </topic>
The interesting thing about this minimal structure is how similar it is to HTML’s meta element:
<meta name=”uniqueID” content=”title content” >. This smallest viable structure is a bona fide name/value association that can be specialized to represent resource bundle strings, translatable field labels, and even a glossterm in a minimal glossentry topic. That and $6.95 will buy you a venti at your corner coffeeshop.