Headings not Used to Provide Structure

Archived Issue

Current Iteration of Issue

Current Iteration as Reference

Short Description

Headings are missing, or are used solely for visual effect.

Long Description

  • Headings can provide important information about the layout of a page and the organization of content. Layout and organization can help a user better understand and process information. Heading divisions give content differentiation, meaning, and make content easier to navigate.
  • When a user navigates a page with a screen reader, all the content appears in a linear form; they essentially read through the HTML like reading through the lines of a book. Visual information such as font size, color, and location on the page help a sighted user more quickly navigate past irrelevant information and find what they are looking for. Using appropriate heading markup gives a screen reader or magnifier user this same information.
  • Proper heading markup gives screen reader and magnifier users additional ways to navigate through the content. There are short cut keys that allow blind/low vision users to navigate from section to section more efficiently. When appropriate heading, section, region, and landmark markup is absent, a screen reader user must navigate one element at a time, trying to derive meaningful relationships. This can be tedious.

Example of Issue

Example of main content without headings to provide programmatic information

Example of user having to create alternative mental maps, because there is no useful heading structure


  • Use proper heading markup to indicate the page title and significant sections.
  • Use headings to indicate a hierarchical organization of content.
  • To read more about the importance of meaningful headings, you can read Basic Structure on the Accessibility and Usability site.



Impacted Assistive Technology

Screen Reader
Screen Magnifier

Impacted Type of Device