Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Headings and Labels:
Understanding SC 2.4.6

2.4.6 Headings and Labels: Headings and labels describe topic or purpose. (Level AA)

The intent of this Success Criterion is to help users understand what information is contained in Web pages and how that information is organized. When headings are clear and descriptive, users can find the information they seek more easily, and they can understand the relationships between different parts of the content more easily. Descriptive labels help users identify specific components within the content.

Labels and headings do not need to be lengthy. A word, or even a single character, may suffice if it provides an appropriate cue to finding and navigating content.

Note: This success criterion does not require headings or labels. This success criterion requires that if headings or labels are provided, they be descriptive. Also note that, if headings or labels are provided, they must meet Understanding Success Criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships.

  • Descriptive headings are especially helpful for users who have disabilities that make reading slow and for people with limited short-term memory. These people benefit when section titles make it possible to predict what each section contains.

  • People who have difficulty using their hands or who experience pain when doing so will benefit from techniques that reduce the number of keystrokes required to reach the content they need.

  • This Success Criterion helps people who use screen readers by ensuring that labels and headings are meaningful when read out of context, for example, in a Table of Contents, or when jumping from heading to heading within a page.

    This Success Criterion may also help users with low vision who can see only a few words at a time.

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 used only satisfy the Success Criterion if all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirementshave been met.[end change]

  1. G130: Providing descriptive headings

  2. G131: Providing descriptive labels

Note: Headings and labels must be programmatically determined, per Success Criterion 1.3.1 .

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 unique section headings in a Web Page (future link)

  • Starting section headings with unique information (future link)

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 2.4.6 by the WCAG Working Group.

(No failures currently documented)

Key Terms


text or other component with a text alternative that is presented to a user to identify a component within Web content

Note 1: A label is presented to all users whereas the name may be hidden and only exposed by assistive technology. In many (but not all) cases the name and the label are the same.

Note 2: The term label is not limited to the label element in HTML.