Headings and labels – accessibility for web writers

Write descriptive headings, sub-headings and labels. This will help users understand what your content is about, decide if it is relevant and go directly to the information they are looking for.

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Benefits of descriptive headings and labels

Descriptive headings and labels are important for people with disabilities. People who read slowly or have problems with short-term memory will benefit from well-labelled chunks of content, rather than having to take in an entire page or article. Vision impaired users of screen reading software will be able to skip to and read each heading to get the gist of the content. People using screen magnifiers will also be able to get a quicker overview.

Using meaningful headings and labels will also help your search engine ranking, particularly if you use keywords: the terms or phrases your users are likely to search with.

Writing better headings and labels

  • Clearly describe the content or purpose of the page or article in the main heading
  • Write sub-headings that describe, summarise or clearly label each part of the page or article
  • Avoid teasers or cute, catchy phrasing that may not be clear to all users
  • Use keywords or keyword phrases, particularly in the main heading
  • Avoid jargon, acronyms and other shortened forms unless they are familiar to your target audience
  • Start headings and labels with distinguishing information, so those who only see or listen to the first few words can distinguish it from earlier and later headings
  • Take care using questions as headings as they can push distinguishing words into the middle of the screen and out of immediate view
  • Be concise. Headings that wrap over several lines may be harder for some users to see or understand
  • Write in sentence or title case. Uppercase is a little slower to read

References

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