Styles Ribbon and Heading Structure

The use of "headings" in a document provides a navigational structure. In Word, the Styles feature is used to create headings. Without headings, a document will appear as one large block of text to assistive devices such as screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. Headings are assigned hierarchically, similar to an outline. Heading 1 is reserved for the Title or main point. Heading 2 would be assigned to the sub-points of Heading 1. Heading 3 would be assigned to the sub-points of Heading 2, and so on.

Best Practice

Use the Styles feature to create headings and apply styling to a document. Do not assign headings (or other styles) based on how the font looks in the ribbon or sidebar. The application of the styles is for structure and although some templates for font and style are shown, each style can be modified to meet the look of the document. For example, do not assign your Title a Heading 3 style just because in the ribbon/sidebar it is blue, italicized, and a medium font.

Benefits to Users and Developers

  • Improved consistency in styling and identification of the document
  • Creation of an outline, table of contents when using headings
  • Effective navigation of content for keyboard-only and screen-reading users
  • Quickly make formatting changes throughout the document
  • Creation of a style base/template for documents

Using the Styles feature