How to Use Headings
Using good heading structure helps people without eyesight to understand how the document is organized. Screen reader and Braille users can also jump between headings, which makes navigation much more efficient than if there are no headings.
Making text larger and bold does not make it a heading. In order to convert text to a heading in Microsoft Word, you must use the built-in Heading styles like “Heading 1” and “Heading 2”, available under Styles in the Home tab of the Ribbon in Office versions 2010 and higher.
Headings should form an outline, using the “Heading 1” style for the main heading, and “Heading 2” for sub-headings. If there are additional levels of headings within the document’s outline, using “Heading 3”, “Heading 4”, etc.
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Instructions Written by Albert Ruel:
To create section headings in your documents, do the following:
- Highlight the text you wish to turn into a Heading. Note, the entire paragraph will be turned into a Heading if the text you wish to use isn’t on its own line. For example: The Contacts Section of a document might be created as follows;
For more information contact:
Sally, Sue, Bill or Jack at 1-888-555-1234.
If the names of the individuals were left on the same line as the Heading, it too would have been marked as a Level 1 Heading. For screen reader users it is cumbersome to hear an entire paragraph read as a Heading, so keep those bits of text short.
To create a level 1 Heading with the selected text, hold down the Alt and Control keys and press the number 1 on the number row. Conversely, levels 2 and 3 can be created as above, and Levels 4, 5 and 6 Headings can only be created by accessing the Styles Sheet in the Ribbons.
To access Headings when reading text with a screen reader:
- To list all the Headings in a document or email message, hold down the Insert key while pressing the F6 key.
- Arrow through the list to read each Heading, or use First Letter command to locate a specific Heading. Note, your screen reader will announce after each Heading the corresponding number of the Heading.
- Press the Enter key on the Heading you wish to access and your cursor will be placed at that location within the document, web page or email message.
Using the letter H for accessing Headings in MS Word:
- Hold down the Insert key while pressing the letter Z to turn Quick Keys on. This action takes you out of edit mode and allows you to press the letter H to move from one Heading to the next, or Shift H to move backward from Heading to Heading.
- Once you have located the desired Heading and want to return to edit mode you will hold down the Insert key while pressing the letter Z again to turn Quick Keys off.
*Note: pressing the letter H will navigate all the Headings in a document in the order they appear, and using Shift H will have you accessing them in reverse order.
An additional means of accessing Headings:
- To access the Level 1 Headings, press the number 1 on the number row. This will take you to the first occurrence of a Level 1 Heading, and pressing it again will take you to the next occurrence. Shift number 1 will move the cursor backward through the Level 1 Headings.
- Once a Level 1 Heading is located, pressing the number 2 on the number row will have the cursor landing on the first Level 2 Heading found below that Level 1 Heading.
- Once the desired section of a Web Page, MS Word document or Email message is found, you can press your down arrow keys to read the text found below that Heading.
- If the desired Heading is also marked as a Link, pressing the Enter key will activate the Link.
*Note: Don’t forget to hold down the Insert key while pressing the letter Z to turn Quick Keys off and return to edit mode. Quick Keys is only needed in MS Word or when creating an Outlook email message. It is not needed on the web or when reading an email message because edit mode is not turned on when doing those functions.