Evaluate Read the headings to see what you have done

How do you know if you've got good headings? Use this technique with both your old content before you revise and your new content when you have a draft.

1. Read just the headings on your web page - without any of the text that is under the headings.

2. Answer these questions:

• Do you understand what each heading means by itself?

• Do the headings tell a coherent story? Do they flow logically from one to the next?

• Do they successfully give you a "big picture"? Can you get the gist of all the information from the headings?

• Do they distinguish different sections? If you wanted only some of the information, is it clear where you would go for that information?

If you answer "no" to any of these questions, the headings are not working well. You may need better headings. You may need to rethink, reorganize, and rewrite the content.


Here are key messages from Chapter 10:

• Break up your text with headings.

- Good headings help readers in many ways.

- Thinking about headings also helps writers.

• Don't just slap headings into old content.

• Start by outlining your content with headings.

• Ask questions as headings when people come questions.

- Make them the questions people come with.

- Think conversation. Ask the question from the site visitor's point of view.

- Keep the questions short.

- Consider starting with a key word for fast access and accessibility.

• Give statement headings to convey key messages.

• Use action phrase headings for instructions.

• Use noun and noun phrase headings sparingly.

• Put your site visitors' words in the headings.

• Exploit the power of parallelism.

• Don't dive deep; keep to no more than two levels of headings (below the page title).

• Make the heading levels obvious.

• Distinguish headings from text with type size and bold or color.

• Help people jump to the topic they need with same-page links.

- Put same-page links right under the page title.

- Don't put off-page links where people expect same-page links.

- Don't put same-page links in the left navigation column.

- Link headings as you move from paper to web.

• Evaluate! Read the headings to see what you have done.

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