I'm just getting familiar with Display Suite and I want to know if I can use it to display only the content - not my header/footer/etc from my theme.
My goal is to display this content in a modal popup so I don't want anything around it.
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aDisplay suite should allow you to modify the output for the fields and even choose some layouts but AFAIK it won't let you completely omit the site theme (i.e. create a page without header or footer).
You can use js/ajax to grab just the portion of the page you want to appear in the modal pop-up so that it doesn't pull in the header/footer. Depending on the JS library(ies) you are using this could be easy or challenging.