Bold, italic text and font-size are not used to style p elements as a heading

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Rule Description

Styled <p> elements must not be used to represent headings because the structure of the document cannot otherwise be determined by screen reader users.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Ensures that paragraph elements do not use italic, bold or font size to give the appearance of headings.

Why this is Important

The underlying purpose of headers is to convey the structure of the page. For sighted users, the same purpose can be achieved by using different sizes of text. This is not helpful for users of screen readers, though, because a screen reader identifies a header only if it is marked up as such. When headers are properly used, though, the page becomes much easier to navigate for screen reader users and sighted users alike.

How to Fix the Problem

Ensure Ensure p elements are not used to style headings.

Compliance Data & User Impact

User Impact: Critical
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
  • Mobility/Dexterity
Issue Type:
  • WCAG 2.0 (A): SHOULD
  • Deque Experimental
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • 1.3.1 Info and Relationships
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • Not applicable

Related Deque University Course Pages

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML 5
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: p-as-heading