Heading Structures

This page describes for web editors in the School of Pharmacy how to specify a correct heading structure for a page in a website built by the Office of Communications.

On this page

Correct heading structure is required

Every page in our website requires a proper heading structure so that:

  • Screen reader users can understand and use our website efficiently.

  • Search engines and people without visual disabilities can correctly understand hierarchies of sections of a page.

When you apply heading structures, formatting for the headings is applied automatically, creating a consistent visual hierarchy. Think of heading structures as an outline of the page.

Selecting headings based on how you like their formatting and without regard to the rules below is not permitted.

Heading 1 is handled automatically

When you specify a page title for your page, the page title becomes the first heading which we call Heading 1. Because it is handled automatically, you don’t need to worry about Heading 1.

Heading 2 and beyond are specified by you

Within your editing interface:

  • If your page is very short, say, just a short paragraph, then no headings other the page title are required.

  • For longer pages:

    • Your top-level headings must be specified as Heading 2.

    • Sections one level deeper must be specified as Heading 3.

    • Sections two levels deeper must be specified as Heading 4.

    • You must not use Heading 3 without previously using a Heading 2.

    • You must not use Heading 4 without previously using a Heading 3.

    • Heading 5 and Heading 6 exist in the interface, but they should not be used. If you need this many levels deep, we recommend that you create new pages for the deeper content. Contact us at Website and Communications Support for help.

Avoid applying bold to an entire line to create a heading

Yes, this gives you a desired effect visually, but then your structural intent is lost. Document structure is important for both search engines and screen reader users to understand and navigate your writing. Optional reading: Headings Create the Page Outline.

Apply heading structure

paragraph format

Paragraph Format picklist

The Paragraph Format picklist enables you to specify heading levels. Place your cursor on a line to which you want to apply a heading structure. Then

Select for
Heading 2 a top-level heading
Heading 3 a heading one level deep
Heading 4 a heading two levels deep

The Paragraph Format picklist also contains other choices for formatting text.

Remove heading structure

Place your cursor on a line to which you want to remove a heading structure. Then

Select for
Normal body text

Dig deeper

Optional reading:

The Importance of Heading Levels for Assistive Technology