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When marking up my web pages, what is the appropriate way to mark up headings?
When possible, headings <h1>, <h2>, etc., should be used to reflect the outline of the page. These tags are an important navigational tool that can greatly improve the usability of your site for visitors who employ screen readers or text-only browsers.
Commonly, this will involve the use of <h1> as a page title, <h2> as a section title, <h3> as a subsection, etc. Levels should not be skipped (e.g., <h1> followed by <h3>), but it is not necessary to start with <h1> if it doesn't make sense for the visual presentation of the page. It is okay to have descending levels as well (e.g., <h1><h2><h3><h2><h2>). Do not use <b> or style sheet formatting to achieve similar visual effects when the standard <h1> through <h6> markup can be used.
It is perfectly okay to begin your use of headings with an <h2> or <h3> tag, so long as you are consistent about employing the tags in descending order and do not skip levels between tags.
A common frustration in using headings is that the <h1> tag without formatting can be quite large and unwieldy. Remember that style sheets can and should be employed to constrain the font size, margins and other visual elements of the <h> tags. Do not employ the <font> tag to achieve this; it has been deprecated and should not be used.
A good CSS tutorial on text formatting (with relevant examples) can be found at http://www.smartwebby.com/web_site_design/css_styles_tutorial.asp.
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Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center
Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access
Georgia Institute of Technology
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