[Athen] proper heading structure in PDF

Chagnon | PubCom chagnon at pubcom.com
Tue Feb 14 05:33:29 PST 2017

That’ll work!

Unfortunately, there are many instances in WCAG and PDF/UA that lack adequate tags for the type of material we create.

Those who create the standards are mostly programmers (mostly, not all) who don’t usually think about how to handle title pages, titles with subtitles, kicker headings, deck heads, department headings, and other common parts of our documents. We end up cramming square WCAG/PDF-UA tags into round document holes.

I counsel my clients to do what makes sense to you for that particular document. As long as there is an H1 tag that designates the title, it’s somewhere close to the start of the reading order, and it is followed by a logical heading hierarchy for other titles, the user should be able to figure things out.

And don’t forget to KISS: keep it simple, sweetie. Don’t obsess too much about this and don’t make it overly complicated for you or your audience. Sometimes a <P> tag does the job just fine.

--Bevi Chagnon

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Bevi Chagnon | <http://www.pubcom.com/> www.PubCom.com

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From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Bourne, Sarah (MASSIT)
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2017 4:23 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] proper heading structure in PDF

Personally (and what I recommend to others) is to use H1 for the title of a document, and only use the TITLE style if there’s a separate title page. I then repeat the title as an H1 after the title page. I haven’t seen a spec for how to use Word’s TITLE, so I just made something up that seemed to make sense.


Sarah E. Bourne
Director of IT Accessibility, MassIT
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 811 Boston MA 02108
<mailto:sarah.bourne at mass.gov> sarah.bourne at mass.gov
<http://www.mass.gov/MassIT> http://www.mass.gov/MassIT

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