Accessible Headings in Word

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What are Headings?

Headings can be thought as descriptions of various parts or sections of content, they also help to outline the content.

For example, you will notice that during this course I have used headings, such as the one on this page titled, “What are Headings?“.

The reason they are so useful, is that they force us to organize our content in a logical manner, and they benefit screen reader users as they can navigate and skip to content based on the headings we use.

How to Use Headings?

Headings are really easy in that you simply click on the appropriate heading level in the styles area of Word, which can be found on the ribbon under the Home menu. Please see the following screenshot for a visual:

Selecting Headings in Word
By accessing the Home menu in Microsoft Word, you can select Heading Levels for text within the Styles area.


There are some general guidelines to using headings:

  • Do not use text formatting (such as bold, underline or italics) to give the visual appearance of headings. Use the actual headings styles.
  • Do not use heading styles just for the sake of achieving visual results. Headings are read by screenreaders and indicate to the learner that content is in a certain section or topic.
  • Do not skip heading levels, so use heading 1 then heading 2 and then 3 and etc. etc. You can have multiple headings of the same level if they are grouped together.

The following is a great example of proper heading level structure, notice how headings never skip forward (i.e. from heading level 4 to heading level 6):

Example Heading Structure
This image illustrates an example heading structure, where headings never skip forward.

Video Overview

The following video from Microsoft, discusses about using headings in Microsoft Word:

© Microsoft


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