The use of heading tags ensures users do not have to rely on visual styling to understand and navigate the document outline.
Ensure all headings are identified. [WCAG 1.3.1]
Use one heading per section to establish the document outline. [WCAG 2.4.10]
Check that headings describe their sections. [WCAG 2.4.6]
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use an
h1heading for every section?
User agents and assistive technologies do not support the outline algorithm defined in HTML5. If you use an
h1heading for every section, they will all appear as top-level headings to assistive technologies, impeding users' ability to navigate the content.
- Should heading levels be sequential?
Headings should reflect the hierarchy of the publication, so an
h2should always be used for secondary level headings,
h3for tertiary, and so on. Avoid gaps in numbering whenever possible (e.g., using
h3for headings below an
Using consistent numbering ensures that users are not confused by the structure of a publication. Assistive technologies provide shortcut keys that allow users to move through the content effectively by heading number, for example. If there are gaps in the numbering, users may not realize there are subsections depending on how they try to navigate (i.e., trying to navigate to a specific heading level will not work; only the generic move to next heading option will).
Headings are one of the primary means of navigation for users of assistive technologies.
section should have a numbered heading (e.g.,
h1) that reflects its level
in the document hierarchy, as numbered headings allow assistive technologies to navigate the document structure.
Each heading element must represent a single heading. Do not break a heading up into separate tags for
visual formatting. If you need to include subheadings, incorporate them into the main heading or include
them in a subsequent paragraph, using a
header tag to encapsulate the full heading.
If a section of text does not have a heading, include a heading in an
aria-label attribute on
the enclosing element. Assistive technologies will announce this label and alert users that a new section
Do not use heading elements within
blockquote and other HTML5
sectioning root elements. Although these features may have titles, using heading elements will force
users to navigate through them to find the next section.