Headings help to organise content and give structure and meaning to a page.

Headings and subheadings make it easier for users to quickly find the information they need, and allow assistive technologies and web crawlers to scan and understand content.

Writing headings

Headings should accurately outline the main purpose of the content in language that helps readers to find the information they're looking for.

When writing headings, make sure they're succinct and appropriately descriptive to help readers scan the page. They should also:

  • include relevant keywords
  • be short and simple (ideally 65 characters or less for mobile users)
  • use sentence case to make them easier to read.

Good headings also avoid using jargon, puns, and exaggerated or unrelated terms.

Hierarchy

Headings are organised into a hierarchy, with levels starting at one and continuing to 6. In web content, they are referred to as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6.

When using headings on a page, you should always organise them in hierarchical order, with the main heading on the page as H1, followed by subheadings in order from H2 onwards.

The page title should always be H1 – and there should only be one H1 per page. This can be included on the hero image or at the top of the page.

Subheadings break the page into more specific sections. H2 should be used for main subheadings on a page, with further subheadings using H3, H4, or H5 in descending order. It is rare to need H4 or H5 – generally, using headings down to H3 is enough.

Headings communicate a specific meaning to both users and web crawlers. Misusing headings can confuse users, screen readers and search engines.

Best practice

  • Never skip heading levels for style reasons (for example, jump from H2 to H4).
  • Don't use bold text instead of a heading.
  • Don't use a heading because you just want to make text bigger.
  • Don't format whole paragraphs as headings.
  • Use one H1 per page.

Example heading hierarchy

H1

This is the main heading on a page.

H2

H2s should be used for second-level subheadings, to group the page into larger sections.

H3

Use H3s for third-level subheadings, to break up content within H2 sections.

H4

Use for fourth-level subheadings.

H5

Use for fifth-level subheadings (rarely used).