Headings in Documents

Word processors provide users with pre-defined formatting styles. Ostensibly these are provided to make it easy to apply formatting styles and to facilitate the use of outlines in organizing one’s writing.

For those who use screen readers (software that convert the text into speech generated by the compute and played thought the computer’s speakers), the headings represented by these styles are important navigation tools. Because of this, faculty and course designer should use those styles rather than creating and applying their own formatting rules for word processing documents.

Once individuals learn to use those styles, they also benefit from being able to use the outlining tools in their word processor to organize and complete their writing projects. Also, they can add tables of contents to the documents that can be updated with a few mouse clicks. Many do find, however that the styles that are defined by default on their word processor is not ADA compliant, especially with regards to color. By editing the style, then applying those edits to all text that has that style, users can immediately update files and make their documents more accessible.

screenshot of the styles menu in Microsoft Word
Styles in Microsoft Word