Make subheadings clearly subordinate to your main headings

Headings label blocks of information. Sometimes you may have subdivided your blocks into parts and want to label them, too. So you need headings and sub-headings.

Here is an illustration:

Headings And Subheadings

What you don't want to do, however, is to have headings that mislead your reader. Notice that the first heading looks subordinate to the next one, the sub-heading:

Heading With Subheadings Example

The sub-heading, which is upper case and centered, looks more important than the main heading, doesn't it? When you design your headings, you need to be sure they work with the priority your readers have learned—perhaps unconsciously—from having read thousands and thousands of pages of printed material. So when you choose the styles you want for your headings, you have to be careful to observe this hierarchy of importance:

• Upper case has priority over lower case

THIS IS A HEADING / This is a heading

That is, if we see a heading that's all upper case, we'll probably figure that it labels a higher level section than a heading that's mainly lower case.

• Bold has priority over italics:

This is a heading / This is a heading

Again, we'll assume a bold heading probably labels a higher level section than a heading that's in italics. That's because bold tends to stand out more.

• Sans serif has priority over serif (if your main text is serif):

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