Heading content must be tagged with a heading tag and level

Rule ID: headings-markup
Ruleset: axe-pdf 2.0
User Impact: Serious
Guidelines: WCAG 2.1 (A), WCAG 2.0 (A)

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Compliance Data & Impact

User Impact


Disabilities Affected

  • Blind
  • Deafblind
  • Mobility


  • WCAG 2.1 (A)
  • WCAG 2.0 (A)

WCAG Success Criteria [WCAG 2.1 (A)]

  • 1.3.1: MUST: Info and Relationships

WCAG Success Criteria [WCAG 2.0 (A)]

  • 1.3.1: MUST: Info and Relationships

How to Fix the Problem

Tag the heading content with a heading tag and a heading level (e.g. H1).

Using the Reading Order Tool in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. A table element (Table).
  2. Open the Reading Order Tool.
  3. Draw a box around the heading.
  4. Select the button that corresponds to the heading level being created (1 through 6).

Using the Tags Pane in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Click the Selection Tool.
  2. Select the heading.
  3. Open the Options Menu in the Tags Pane.
  4. Select Create Tag from Selection.
  5. Select the appropriate tag from the dropdown menu (Heading Level 1 through Heading Level 6) and click OK.

Note: Adobe Acrobat Pro is the most common tool for PDF remediations, but other tools and software are also available and can be used to remediate the PDF.

Why it Matters

Because headings indicate the start of important sections of content, it is possible for assistive technology users to access the list of headings and to jump directly to the appropriate heading and begin reading the content. This ability to "skim" the content through the headings and go directly to content of interest significantly speeds interaction for users who would otherwise access the content slowly.

Rule Description

Headings must be tagged appropriately so that they are recognized by assistive technology. Headings are marked up using the heading elements (H, H1, H2, ... H6) in the structure tree.

The Algorithm (in simple terms)

Heading content must be tagged with a heading tag and level


Other Resources

You may also want to check out these other resources.

Refer to the complete list of axe 2.0 rules.

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