Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Section Headings:
Understanding SC 2.4.10

2.4.10 Section Headings: Section headings are used to organize the content. (Level AAA)

Note 1: "Heading" is used in its general sense and includes titles and other ways to add a heading to different types of content.

Note 2: This success criterion covers sections within writing, not user interface components. User Interface components are covered under Success Criterion 4.1.2.

The intent of this Success Criterion is to provide headings for sections of a Web page, when the page is organized into sections. For instance, long documents are often divided into a variety of chapters, chapters have subtopics and subtopics are divided into various sections, sections into paragraphs, etc. When such sections exist, they need to have headings that introduce them. This clearly indicates the organization of the content, facilitates navigation within the content, and provides mental "handles" that aid in comprehension of the content. Other page elements may complement headings to improve presentation (e.g., horizontal rules and boxes), but visual presentation is not sufficient to identify document sections.

This provision is included at Level AAA because it cannot be applied to all types of content and it may not always be possible to insert headings. For example, when posting a pre-existing document to the Web, headings that an author did not include in the original document cannot be inserted. Or, a long letter would often cover different topics, but putting headings into a letter would be very strange. However, if a document can be broken up into sections with headings, it facilitates both understanding and navigation.

  • People who are blind will know when they have moved from one section of a Web page to another and will know the purpose of each section.

  • People with some learning disabilities will be able to use the headings to understand the overall organization of the page content more easily.

  • People who navigate content by keyboard will be able to jump the focus from heading to heading, enabling them to find quickly content of interest.

  • In pages where content in part of the page updates, headings can be used to quickly access updated content.

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. [begin change]However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. Any techniques, whether published by the WCAG group or not, can be sufficient if a) they satisfy the Success Criterion and b) all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.[end change]

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

  • Using the 'live' property to mark live regions (future link) (ARIA)

  • Providing mechanisms to navigate to different sections of the content of a Web page (future link)

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 2.4.10 by the WCAG Working Group.

(No failures currently documented)

Key Terms


A self-contained portion of written content that deals with one or more related topics or thoughts

Note: A section may consist of one or more paragraphs and include graphics, tables, lists and sub-sections.

user interface component

a part of the content that is perceived by users as a single control for a distinct function

Note 1: Multiple user interface components may be implemented as a single programmatic element. Components here is not tied to programming techniques, but rather to what the user perceives as separate controls.

Note 2: User interface components include form elements and links as well as components generated by scripts.

Example: An applet has a "control" that can be used to move through content by line or page or random access. Since each of these would need to have a name and be settable independently, they would each be a "user interface component."