Understanding Success Criterion 2.4.10: Section Headings

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

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

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

Intent

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.

Benefits

Examples

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques

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. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Sufficient Techniques

  1. G141: Organizing a page using headings
  2. H69: Providing heading elements at the beginning of each section of content

Advisory Techniques

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.

Failures

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

Key Terms

user interface component

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

Note

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

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

Note

What is meant by "component" or "user interface component" here is also sometimes called "user interface element".

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."