Headings are the main parts of an outline, and communicate the organization of the content on your document. In addition, assistive technologies such as screen readers use them to provide efficient navigation.
- Headings are used to organize the content
- Headings should describe topic or purpose
- Headings should not be used to highlight body text.
- Headings may use any font size/bold combination; however, you probably want your title to be the most prominent, and your sections to draw the reader’s attention.
Example of Logical Structure
As an example, let us think about the outline for a document about pets.
H1 (heading level 1) is usually your title. Visually, it is larger and bolder because of its importance. In this case, it would read something like:
Things to Consider When Selecting a New Pet
H2 (heading level 2) will be used to highlight the main sections on your document. For instance, your sections could include Dogs, Cats, Fish, Reptiles, etc.
H2 headings would have a smaller font than the H1, but still large and prominent, so people can easily scan the document and find the section they need.
H3 (heading level 3) will be used to highlight subsections or topics that fall under your document sections. For instance, under the Dogs section, you could have subsections such as Getting a Puppy, Getting an Older Dog, Breed Considerations, etc. Topics under Cats, Fish, and Reptiles would be H3 as well.
Visually, H3 font could be a different style, or possibly smaller than the H2 font, but still bold or different from the body text font. This way people can differentiate and easily locate these subsections.
If needed, you may nest headings up to H6; however, once the author understands the heading hierarchy, most documents and sites only use up to H4 headings.
How to easily check your headings
- Open the Navigation Pane (Ctrl + F). Make sure it’s on the icon to browse headings.
- Check that all of your headings appear in the navigation pane and match the visual outline of your document.
- Make sure your headings follow a logical order.