SCULPT for Accessibility

Structure (use headings and styles)

What is structure?

The structure of a document is the way content is organised. To do this we need to apply in-built headings and styles. This is one of the most important things to do to a document, especially if it is a long document.

Why do it?

When we read documents, especially long ones, we don't read them start to finish word for word, we often start by looking at the content such as main section headings and sub-headings to find where we want to go to.

People who use a screen reader or those who are unable to use a mouse equally want to be able to navigate a document in the same way. This type of navigation can be done using keyboard shortcuts or tabbing through a menu on a screen reader.

Structure in a document can provide this navigation so all users can quickly get to the content they need without scrolling or having to read read word for word.

However this can only work if the document is set up with a structure correctly.

How to do it

A structure means adding headings such as Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3. Adding these creates a map or navigation menu of headings and sub-headings for screen readers to follow.

How headings work

Adding headings is easy. They can be found in the ribbon of your software. In Microsoft word this can be found at the top of the screen.

Ribbon in Microsoft Word

In Microsoft Word if you go into the 'View' tab you can tick to open the 'Navigation Pane' and this will show you the map of your document. This shows you how applying in-built headings has organised your content, so it is clear what are the top level headings and the sub-headings within them.

Navigation pane in Word


Instructional video

Here is a short video explaining how to add headings and styles to your document.

This video has captions, these can be found by clicking on cc in the YouTube player functions

captions on YouTube


How to change or modify your heading styles to suit your  needs

But don't forget to choose your colours for good colour contrast

More information

For accessible features in other Microsoft products please visit Microsoft accessibility video training (opens in a new window)