Headings in Pilot

Create headings using Pilot’s “Format” menu. Choose from “Heading 1,” “Heading 2,” etc. Don’t just make text big, bold, or underlined.

Why Headings Matter

  • Screen reader users will be able to hear which blocks of text are headings and what level each heading occupies in the hierarchy of the page.
  • Screen reader users will be able to skim the page by jumping from heading to heading.
  • It saves you a lot of time. If you use a template with heading CSS styles, you can apply consistent formatting to your headings throughout your document without having to choose the font, size, weight, shading, and borders each time you make a heading.
  • You will be able to change the formatting of all the headings of a given level at once using CSS styles.
  • You can easily create consistent formatting from document to document.

How to Make a Heading

  1. Click anywhere in the block of text you want to make into a heading. You don’t have to highlight the text, just click once anywhere in the paragraph.
  2. From the “Format” menu on the HTML editor toolbar, choose the level of heading you want.

Create a Consistent Hierarchy without Gaps

Usually, the topic heading at the top of your page will be Heading 1. The headings of sections within the document will have Heading 2 styles. Headings within a level 2 section will have Heading 3 styles.

The idea is to convey the information’s hierarchy with headings. Here is an example of how the heading levels relate. For illustration, this uses a list instead of actual headings:

  • A Guide to the Babel Fish (Heading 1)
    • What is a Babel Fish? (Heading 2)
      • Physical Appearance (Heading 3)
      • Decoding Mechanism (Heading 3)
    • The Babel Fish in Philosophical Arguments (Heading 2)
      • Oolon Colluphid’s Arguments (Heading 3)
        • Argument for (Heading 4)
        • Argument against (Heading 4)
      • Agrajag’s Argument (Heading 3)

No heading level should be out of order. You would not have a Heading 4 come directly after Heading 1, for example. A level 4 is a section of a 3, which is a section of a 2, which is a section of a 1.

For most documents, three heading levels will do. You rarely need more than four.

Is a “Heading 1” in My Page Redundant?

Yes, it might be redundant, but that’s OK. It’s better to have two top headings than none, which is what can happen if you omit the Heading 1 from the page.

How it’s Redundant

When you create a document with the HTML editor, you have to give it a title. Pilot provides a little box for that just above the editor’s toolbar. When a student views the document, that title is displayed above the page with an “h1” tag. So if you make another “h1” in your document, using “Heading 1” from the toolbar, then you will have two level one headings. What’s more, if the two headings say close to the same thing, as they should, then you do have redundant headings.

Why it Often isn’t Redundant

When you view a page in Pilot, it’s surrounded by lots of navigation links and by buttons for printing and downloading. When you’re using a screen reader, it can be easy to get lost and miss the content you’re after.

So a lot of students who use screen readers don’t read content pages in Pilot. Instead, they’ll download a page and read it straight from the downloads folder. Or they’ll open the frame containing the page in a new tab. In either case, only the Heading 1 that was actually on the page remains. The title gets left behind.

The same thing happens when a student clicks the “Print” button in Pilot. That “title” does not print. So if you omit the Heading 1 from your text, the printed page will have no title.

Finally, that “title” box Pilot has you fill in creates the link text in the course’s table of contents. So that text should be short and easy to read at a glance. The “Heading 1” on your page, however, can be as descriptive as you like.

Clearly, the title’s wording should be a close match to the level 1 heading on the page. That way, a students won’t think they’re getting the wrong page after they click the link in Content. But you can treat the two differently so you have both a pithy link and a fully descriptive Heading 1 on the page.

Video on How to Add Headings