Headings and subheadings are essential because they structure the hierarchy of content on webpages into clear sections. Good use of headings make pages that are user-friendly and easy to read.
Headings provide important technical functions too. They help visually impaired users and screen readers to navigate around the website. Headings are also important for improving search engine visibility.
But, improper use of headings will cause confusion and make it difficult for users and search engines to find key information.
Top tips for writing effective titles and headings
- Do use Heading 1 (h1) as your main heading on your page, followed by h2, h3 and so on to maintain content hierarchy
- Do use keywords in headings and try and make this the first or second word if possible e.g. 'Master's courses information' rather than 'Information about Master's courses'
- Do use the active verb if the page is for doing the thing. E.g 'Submit your proposal', 'Apply for a course' or 'Book a room'
- Do include content to support each header
- Do use the present participle (ending 'ing) if the page is about doing that thing, but users would do that thing elsewhere. E.g. 'Applying for a course', 'Booking a room' etc.
- Do try and keep headings and titles as succinct as possible - they need to be scannable
- Do use sentence case - only capitalise the first word unless it is a proper noun (name of something)
- Don’t use headings simply to apply effects to your text
- Don’t apply the Heading 1 style to more than one heading on a page
- Don’t use the same heading on every page.
- Don't use title case e.g. This Is An Example Of Title Case
Using headings properly is also essential to make your content readable for people using screen readers. You can read more about Using clear and effective headings in our accessibility guidance.