[Athen] Heading 1 best practice: document vs web

Jennifer Sutton jsuttondc at gmail.com
Sat Mar 25 13:45:21 PDT 2017

For my money, best practices for documents are clearer than they are for
the web. See citations of recent discussions, below. I believe it's
critical to be realistic when it comes to heading recommendations,
especially on the web.

Basically, I think there are a lot bigger "accessibility fish to fry"
than trying to be absolutely rigid about the idea of one h1 on a webpage.

I think it's hard, and not realistic, to have a one-size-fits-all rule
on the web, given the use of content management systems. So, for the
web, I focus on the idea of *consistent* use of headings, and that
benefits everyone, including those who are in charge of style sheets.

But for documents, my tendency would be to say: "if it works like a
book, make it work like a book . . . i.e. h1 is your title, so there
should be only one." Documents are much easier to control, or, they
*can* be, depending on tools and competency. Given all of the document
checkers and toolbars for accessibility that are around, they should be
helping make Word documents and PDFs better.



Three citations, mostly web-focused and two of the three based on recent
discussions of trying to automate headings:

The myth of automated heading outlines


The Document Outline Dilemma:

[longer than the citation above, but includedto help understand that
this is not simple/clearcut and why, imo]

A page in a WAI tutorial, in progress:

On 3/25/2017 12:42 PM, Preast, Vanessa wrote:


> Hello,


> I’m trying to put together a best practice handbook for our

> stakeholders. While H1 use is clear for webpages, I have not really

> been able to get a consensus answer on using Heading 1 in documents.

> Is Heading 1 always only used once to mark the title, or can it be

> used multiple times in a Word document? If the former, it seems to not

> fit well with the auto-generated table of contents, which pulls in H1,

> H2 and H3 by default…. What about book chapters vs book title?


> *True or False?*Heading 1 can be used multiple times within a MS Word

> document assuming the rest of the headings are nested appropriately.

> (Unlike a webpage which only uses Heading 1 once per page).


> If there is a definitive answer on using Headings in documents, can

> you refer me to them? I want to make sure I’m providing the best

> information.


> Thanks,


> Vanessa




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