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How should headings be used and why are they important?

Modified on: Tue, 29 Nov, 2022 at 1:20 PM

The user of heading with proper semantic markup is one of the basic principles of web accessibility. Why is the use of headings so important?

Who benefits from Headings?

  • Individuals who are blind or visually impaired often choose to browse a webpage by headings. This gives them a good idea of what is on the page and of what material on the page is most important. It is a far quicker process than reading a page line by line or even link by link.
  • Individuals who can only use the keyboard for navigation can browse a webpage much faster if the page contains proper headings.
  • Individuals who have difficulty organizing and prioritizing materials they encounter on a webpage can better understand the page as they see its organization reflected by the proper use of headings. 
  • Search engines: Headings provide structure for search engines and help search engines to understand your website content more effectively.
  • Everyone: Having a logical heading structure benefits everyone because headings highlight what is important. Most readers first skim through the headings, to search for relevant information. Your headings have the possibility to make or break the content since they will determine if your content sounds interesting enough for the visitor to engage with it more.

Some considerations for Headings

  • Use proper semantic markup. Headings need to be identified by <h1> through <h6> tags. Styling for visual effects can be done through CSS, but style alone does not constitute true headings. Proper semantic markup is essential for assistive technology to recognize headings.
  • Follow a logical outline in organizing the content on your page. Use logical heading levels to delineate main points and subpoints of your material.
  • Don’t skip heading levels on a page. For example, try not to go from a level 2 heading to a level 5 heading. Remember – it’s all about organization and consistency.

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