Texas Tech University

Using Headings

Headings create structure in a document that is not only useful for sighted users but for those using assistive technology as well. The proper addition of headings into a document is among the most essential accessibility elements.

Assigning proper headings is the only way to make these content breaks available to assistive technology. Simply changing the font size or spacing will not allow a visually impaired student to "skim" the document for relevant headings, the way a sighted user would. 

How to Create Accessible Headings

Headings in Microsoft Word

  1. Open your Word document and navigate to the Home tab. You will use the Styles section on the Home tab to assign heading levels to headings in your document. 
    Home tab in Microsoft Word with box around the home tab and arrow pointing to Styles section
  2. All headings should be appropriately nested with Heading 1 as the title of the document, Heading 2 assigned to primary headings, Headings 3 assigned to secondary headings, and so on. Best practice suggests not going beyond Heading 3 except in longer, more technical documents. 
  3. To assign a heading style, highlight your heading text then right-click on the correct heading level. Select, "Update Heading 1 to Match Selection". This will maintain the look of your heading. Home tab in Microsoft Word with arrow pointing to Heading 1 option "Update heading 1 to match selection"
  4. After you have updated a heading level to look the way you want it to look, you can simply highlight the next heading and then click the desired heading level. (Note: Typically the Heading 3 option won't appear until a Heading 2 has been assigned.)
  5. After completing all of your headings, check that they have been properly assigned by using the Navigation Pane. Click CTRL + F and the Navigation Pane will pop up on the left-hand side of the screen. Click Headings and you will see an outline view of the headings that have been assigned. Check to see that all headings are present and correctly nested. 
    Navigation Pane in Microsoft word with arrow pointing to Headings

Headings in Blackboard

  1. Open your Blackboard course and navigate to a content item that needs headings. Once you see the item that you'd like to edit, hover near the title and you will see a small chevron appear to the right of the title. Click on that chevron and then select Edit from the menu that pops up.
    Screenshot in Blackboard indicating to click on the chevron next to the title of an item and then to click on 'Edit'.
  2. Once the item is open, you will see the text content in a rich-text editor like the one below. From here, simply select the text that you want to tag as a heading and then click on the format drop-down menu and choose the appropriate heading level. The selected text will automatically become bigger and carry a bold weight. If you decide to change the look of the heading, be sure that the format drop-down menu still has the appropriate heading level indicated after you make the changes.
      Screenshot in Blackboard of the rich text editor with some text highlighted and the format drop-down menu open ready to select 'Heading' to change selected text into a heading

Helpful Links

Video: Creating Accessible Headings in Word (1:25)

Video: Creating Accessible Headings in Blackboard (1:47)


Online Accessibility at Texas Tech

  • Address

    Worldwide eLearning | Texas Tech Plaza | 1901 University Avenue, Suite 513 | Lubbock, Texas 79410-5095 || Mailing: Box 45095 | Lubbock, TX 79409-5095
  • Phone

    (806) 742-7227
  • Email