Documents must have <title> element to aid in navigation

Rule Description

The HTML document must have a <title> element to provide users with an overview of its content, and when present, it must not be empty.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Ensures that each HTML document contains a <title>

Why this is Important

Screen reader users use page titles to get an overview of the contents of the page. Navigating through pages can quickly become difficult and confusing for screen reader users if the pages are not marked with a title. The page <title> element is the first thing screen reader users hear when first loading a web page.

The <title> is the first thing that screen reader users hear when they arrive at a page. If there is no <title> or if the <title> is not descriptive and unique, screen reader users must read through the page to determine its contents and purpose.

Compliance Data & Impact

User Impact: Serious
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
  • Mobility/Dexterity
Severity: Serious
Issue Type:
  • WCAG 2.0 (A): MUST
  • WCAG 2.1 (A): MUST
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • 2.4.2 Page Titled
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • Not applicable

How to Fix the Problem

Add an informative title to the document using the <title> element with meaningful text.

Ensure that the document's <title> contains short, descriptive text summarizing the page's contents.

Add a title to the document using the <title> tag. You can do this as follows:


	<html>
		<title> A brief, clear, informative, and unique title</title>
		<!-- the rest of the page content --> 
	</html>

A good title is brief, clear, informative, and unique. Ensure that the document's <title> contains short, descriptive text summarizing the page's contents. To pass this rule, it’s not sufficient to simply have a <title> tag; the tag must also contain meaningful text.

Be sure to follow these best practices when writing a title:

  • Replace placeholder titles such as “untitled page” with a more appropriate phrase
  • Make each title unique - don’t duplicate titles across pages, even if they are similar.
  • Put all unique information first. If you want to include the company’s name or brand in the title, this information should go after the unique content. Otherwise, users of screen readers will have to listen to this information over and over as they search for the page that interests them.
  • Make the page title match the top heading (ideally labelled as h1) on your page. These don’t need to be identical, but it often makes sense to make them very similar, since the <title> and <h1> tags serve essentially the same purpose.

In addition to making the page more accessible, titles have other benefits, since search engines use titles when filtering, ordering, and displaying results. Improving the accessibility of your site can also have the effect of making your page more findable.

Related Deque University Course Pages

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML5
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: document-title