Skip to content

Technique T3:Using standard text formatting conventions for headings


Plain text documents. Not applicable to technologies that contain markup.

This technique relates to 1.3.1: Info and Relationships (Sufficient when used with Making information and relationships conveyed through presentation programmatically determinable or available in text using the following techniques: ).


The objective of this technique is to use text formatting conventions to convey the structure of the content. Headings are used to locate and label sections of a text document, showing the organization of the document.

The beginning of a heading is indicated by

  • two blank lines preceding the heading

The end of a heading is indicated by

  • a blank line following the heading

A blank line contains any number of non-printing characters, such as space or tab, followed by a new line.

The programmatic identification of the Heading is the two blank lines preceding it and one blank line succeeding it. Text documents are necessarily void of underlying structure and so structure must be indicated in the programmatic layout for screen readers. This programmatic layout will enable screen readers to voice blank lines twice before the text that will be considered as a heading. A screen magnifier user would decipher headings by visually identifying the space before it (or their technology may have Screen reader capabilities that can identify the spaces).


Example 1

A paragraph is followed by two blank lines, then a heading, then one blank line, then another paragraph:

...this is the end of paragraph 1.

The Text of the Heading

This is the beginning of paragraph 2.



For each heading in the content:

  1. Check that each heading is preceded by two blank lines
  2. Check that each heading is followed by a blank line
  3. Check that no heading contains any blank lines

Expected Results

  • All of the checks above are true.
Back to Top