h6 elements and the
hgroup element are headings.
The first element of heading content in an element of sectioning content represents the heading for that section. Subsequent headings of equal or higher rank start new (implied) sections, headings of lower rank start implied subsections that are part of the previous one. In both cases, the element represents the heading of the implied section.
Certain elements are said to be sectioning roots, including
td elements. These elements can have their own
outlines, but the sections and headings inside these elements do not
contribute to the outlines of their ancestors.
Sectioning content elements are always considered subsections of their nearest ancestor sectioning root or their nearest ancestor element of sectioning content, whichever is nearest, regardless of what implied sections other headings may have created.
For the following fragment:
<body> <h1>Foo</h1> <h2>Bar</h2> <blockquote> <h3>Bla</h3> </blockquote> <p>Baz</p> <h2>Quux</h2> <section> <h3>Thud</h3> </section> <p>Grunt</p> </body>
...the structure would be:
bodysection, containing the "Grunt" paragraph)
Notice how the
section ends the earlier implicit
section so that a later paragraph ("Grunt") is back at the top
Sections may contain headings of any rank, but
authors are strongly encouraged to either use only
elements, or to use elements of the appropriate rank
for the section's nesting level.
Authors are also encouraged to explicitly wrap sections in elements of sectioning content, instead of relying on the implicit sections generated by having multiple headings in one element of sectioning content.
For example, the following is correct:
<body> <h4>Apples</h4> <p>Apples are fruit.</p> <section> <h2>Taste</h2> <p>They taste lovely.</p> <h6>Sweet</h6> <p>Red apples are sweeter than green ones.</p> <h1>Color</h1> <p>Apples come in various colors.</p> </section> </body>
However, the same document would be more clearly expressed as:
<body> <h1>Apples</h1> <p>Apples are fruit.</p> <section> <h2>Taste</h2> <p>They taste lovely.</p> <section> <h3>Sweet</h3> <p>Red apples are sweeter than green ones.</p> </section> </section> <section> <h2>Color</h2> <p>Apples come in various colors.</p> </section> </body>
Both of the documents above are semantically identical and would produce the same outline in compliant user agents.
This third example is also semantically identical, and might be easier to maintain (e.g. if sections are often moved around in editing):
<body> <h1>Apples</h1> <p>Apples are fruit.</p> <section> <h1>Taste</h1> <p>They taste lovely.</p> <section> <h1>Sweet</h1> <p>Red apples are sweeter than green ones.</p> </section> </section> <section> <h1>Color</h1> <p>Apples come in various colors.</p> </section> </body>
This final example would need explicit style rules to be rendered well in legacy browsers. Legacy browsers without CSS support would render all the headings as top-level headings.
The outline for a sectioning content
element or a sectioning root element consists of a list
of one or more potentially nested sections. A section is a container that
corresponds to some nodes in the original DOM tree. Each section can
have one heading associated with it, and can contain any number of
further nested sections. (The sections in the
section elements, though some may
correspond to such elements — they are merely conceptual
The following markup fragment:
<body> <h1>A</h1> <p>B</p> <h2>C</h2> <p>D</p> <h2>E</h2> <p>F</p> </body>
...results in the following outline being created for the
body node (and thus the entire document):
Section created for
Associated with heading "A".
Also associated with paragraph "B".