Accessible Text, Headings and Documentation

Tips for Creating Accessible Text, Headings and Documentation

  1. Avoid writing in all capitals. This slows down reading speed and makes it difficult for some users to read your text. You may be trying to emphasize something using all-caps, but the end result is making that item harder to read.
  2. All headings should be used hierarchically. They should not be used to obtain a certain visual style.
  3. Headings should only go down one level, or back up to a previous, higher level.
  4. While Heading 1 (H1 HTML tag) may be used multiple times within a page, it is advised that you restrict this to only the page title. As such, the heading 1 option has been removed; existing H1 tags will remain until the next time a containing page is saved.
  5. Some users using assistive tools may be navigating your site by grabbing a list of headings. If your page is using bolded text instead of an appropriate heading tag, it will not be picked up in these lists.
  6. Using headings appropriately will help give search engines a better picture of how your site is structured and will improve your position within search results.
  7. When describing things use multiple descriptors. Try to avoid describing by only size, colour and shape.
    • For example: "Click the button labelled 'Submit' at the end of the form." instead of "Click the large button."
  8. You must have accessible alternatives of any document you post (Word documents, Power Point presentations, PDF files, etc.).
  9. Avoid capital letters, spaces and special characters in file names. Use a dash ( - ) or underscore ( _ ) in place of spaces.

Example of Proper Heading Structure

The best way to think about heading structure is probably to consider headings like sections of an essay, an assignment, or a legal document.

For example:

1. Page title (Heading 1) [This is automatic]
    1.1. Heading 2
    1.2. Heading 2
        1.2.1. Heading 3
            1.2.1.1. Heading 4
            1.2.1.2. Heading 4
                1.2.1.2.1. Heading 5
        1.2.2. Heading 3
        1.2.3. Heading 3
            1.2.3.1. Heading 4
        1.2.4. Heading 3
    1.3 Heading 2
[ ... ]

As you can see from the above, a heading never decends more than a single level at a time, but it can ascend more than one level at a time to switch topics.