Headings communicate the organization of the content on the page. Web browsers, plug-ins, and assistive technologies can use them to provide in-page navigation.

Heading ranks

Nest headings by their rank (or level). The most important heading has the rank 1 (<h1>), the least important heading rank 6 (<h6>). Headings with an equal or higher rank start a new section, headings with a lower rank start new subsections that are part of the higher ranked section.

Skipping heading ranks can be confusing and should be avoided where possible: Make sure that a <h2> is not followed directly by an <h4>, for example. It is ok to skip ranks when closing subsections, for instance, a <h2> beginning a new section, can follow an <h4> as it closes the previous section.

Exception for fixed page sections

In fixed sections of the page, for example in sidebars, the heading ranks should not change depending on the ranks in the content area. In those cases, consistency across pages is more important.

Organize passages of text

In the following example, headings are used to only organize passages of text on a page, for example the main content:

One example (h1) heading (Space Teddy) with three h2 headings inside the content (Cotton Fur, Sapphire Eyes, Synthetic Felt Paws).

Headings that reflect the page organization

Headings are useful for labeling page regions. Use aria-labelledby to associate headings with their page region, as described in the label page regions section of this tutorial. If the headings are visible, the regions are easy to identify for all users.

Main heading before navigation

In this first example, the heading with the rank 1 is the first heading in the document. All other headings for structuring the page (Navigation Menu, Sidebar, Footer) are one rank lower, and so is the heading for the main content.

One h1 heading with several h2s and h3 creating subsections. One subsection’s heading is ”(h3) Sapphire Eyes” which has a subsection “(h4) How they are made”. The next heading is an h2, indicating that the (h4) and (h3) subsections are both closed now.

Main heading after navigation

In this second example, the main heading is not the site name but the content heading, which is rank 1. The subheadings in the content are rank 2 as are all the other structural headings.

The page starts with an (h2) Navigation Menu, followed by an (h2) Sidebar and an (h1) Space Teddy. The following headings are all (h2) subsections, including the footer which –

These tutorials provide best-practice guidance on implementing accessibility in different situations. This page combined the following WCAG 2.0 success criteria and techniques from different conformance levels:

Success Criteria: