Navigation path

Headings

Headings help people:

  • find your page via search engines (especially the top heading, H1)
  • navigate  around your page once they arrive

Make the top heading on the page an H1, with subheadings H2 and lower. If you do not use these formats for your headings, they will not be recognised by search engines.

For search engines, H1 headings are the single most important piece of on-page text. Lower-level headings - H2, H3, etc. - also influence search engines.

Because readers scan webpages rather than reading every word, headings are important signposts to help them find their way around a page. Headings are read 5 times more than body text.

Web texts should therefore have many more headings than print documents – even one heading for every paragraph may not be too much.

 

Headings should:

  • Be short (max. 60 characters with spaces, or ±8 words in English). Use a telegraphic headline style without filler words like the, and, of.
  • Use the same main descriptive words as in your <title> tag.
    Readers clicking on your <title> tag in a search results page will then be easily able to see that the page they land on is the correct one.
  • Use concrete readers’ words (i.e. for non-specialists, avoid jargon and abstractions).
  • Express issues from the readers' perspective.
  • Lead with the key idea, not the EU's perspective or lesser details (dates, etc.)
  • Meaningfully describe the content in that section and its relationship to other sections.
  • Be interesting to attract the attention of scanning readers,
    e.g. use an informal style and express action through strong verbs rather than nouns.

Examples                                                               

Wrong approach 

Correct approach

The Commission’s existing framework

(in a page on ethics in the Commission)

Ethics at the Commission

(includes specific subject words)

Procedures

(in a page on press accreditation)

How accreditation is granted

(expresses a meaningful task for readers)

Your Internet - Your choice

(too much slogan and general)

PC users free to choose web browsers

(uses concrete subject words so readers will instantly understand)