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California State University, Long Beach
Web Comm, California State University, Long Beach
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Web Accessibility: The Document Outline

§1194.22 (d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

Document Outline illustration

The document outline is the structure of a document. Content on a web page often contains sections which include paragraphs. The page main title and its subordinate sections are chunks of information that form the structure of the document. This structure should be presented by using HTML heading labels (H1 - H6) reflecting the logical order of the content. HTML heading 1 (H1) should be used for the page main title and all subsequent headings should observe its hierarchical order. For example, H2 headings should follow H1 headings, H3 headings should follow H2 headings and so forth.

Levels should not be omitted, meaning for example, H3 should not follow an H1 heading. Headings should not be indicated or emulated by style alone, meaning for example, a paragraph using large, bold text style should not be used instead of an actual heading element.

A document should contain at least one H1 heading and may contain multiple H2 headings which in turn can contain one or more subheadings (H3 or higher). Keep in mind heading elements only indicate the beginning of sections, not their content.