HTML Headings

Introduction

HTML provides not only plain paragraph tags, but six separate header tags to indicate headings of various sizes and thicknesses. Enumerated as heading 1 through heading 6, heading 1 has the largest and thickest text while heading 6 is the smallest and thinnest, down to the paragraph level. This topic details proper usage of these tags.

Syntax

  • <h1>...</h1>
  • <h2>...</h2>
  • <h3>...</h3>
  • <h4>...</h4>
  • <h5>...</h5>
  • <h6>...</h6>

Remarks

  • An h1h6 element must have both a start tag and an end tag.1

  • h1h6 elements are block level elements by default (CSS style: display: block).2

  • h1h6 elements should not be confused with the section element

  • Heading tags (h1h6) are not related to the head tag.

  • Permitted Content: phrasing content

  • The different CSS-styles for headings differ usually in font-size and margin. The following CSS-settings for h1h6 elements can serve as an orientation (characterized as 'informative' by the W3C)

  • Search engine spiders (the code that adds a page to a search engine) automatically pays more attention to higher importance (h1 has most, h2 has less, h3 has even less, ...) headings to discern what a page is about.

Using Headings

Headings can be used to describe the topic they precede and they are defined with the <h1> to <h6> tags. Headings support all the global attributes.

  • <h1> defines the most important heading.
  • <h6> defines the least important heading.

Defining a heading:

<h1>Heading 1</h1>
<h2>Heading 2</h2>
<h3>Heading 3</h3>
<h4>Heading 4</h4>
<h5>Heading 5</h5>
<h6>Heading 6</h6>

Correct structure matters

Search engines and other user agents usually index page content based on heading elements, for example to create a table of contents, so using the correct structure for headings is important.

In general, an article should have one h1 element for the main title followed by h2 subtitles – going down a layer if necessary. If there are h1 elements on a higher level they shoudn't be used to describe any lower level content.

Example document (extra intendation to illustrate hierarchy):

<h1>Main title</h1>
<p>Introduction</p>

    <h2>Reasons</h2>

        <h3>Reason 1</h3>
        <p>Paragraph</p>

        <h3>Reason 2</h3>
        <p>Paragraph</p>

    <h2>In conclusion</h2>
    <p>Paragraph</p>