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Re: More than one h1 tag

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Wed, 02 Dec 2009 10:08:01 -0600
To: IG - WAI Interest Group List list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <322511CB-9CA3-44FC-BEDA-73240ADA0490@trace.wisc.edu>
This posting string was brought to my attention since there was a question about WCAG conformance at the start of it. 

In all of these discussions, it is important to distinguish between what is good practice (or best practice)  and what is required by WCAG 2.0

The original question was related to what is required for WCAG 2.0 conformance.   
The answer to that question is that having only 1 H1 title on a page is not required by WCAG 2.0. 

I will leave the best practice discussion to others -- since that is a broader question and relates both to general best practice and best practice for accessibility.  


Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Director Trace R&D Center
Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
and Biomedical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison

On Dec 2, 2009, at 9:39 AM, Richard_Userite wrote:

> Hi Michael,
> There is some logic in what you say, however the <title> element is not visible on the screen or printed page (except when presented at the top of the browser window) therefore it has become practice to use the <h1> element to repeat the <title> value, or at least a near interpretation of it. Thus the first (and only) <h1> IS the title of the page. This is not just an accessibility issue, the Google algorythm also compares the <title> and <h1> to aid scoring.
> Semantically each page should have only one top level heading, it describes the purpose of the page. Different areas of the page should start with <h2> e.g. Navigation area, adverts etc. and, of course, subsections of the main text/content. Using this structure the <h2>s do bear a relationship with the original <h1> because they are on the same page, but - more importantly - if a blind user is on a second level heading anywhere in the page, and presses SHIFT/H in Jaws they will be taken to the top level heading, which they expect to be the main heading on the page (i.e. page title).  If we have more than one <h1> then there is no single semantic structure to the page and the blind user will only be able to go back to the section heading not the main page heading.
> If (God forbid) you are using Frames to construct your page there might be an argument for having an <h1> in each frame (as each frame is a stored as a seperate document), but we really should treat the web-page as it is presented to the user as a single document (regardless of how it is composed) and therefore ensure that there is only one top level heading on any one page.
> Regards
> Richard
> www.userite.com
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Virant
> To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 2:15 AM
> Subject: Re: More than one h1 tag
> My view is that the web page TITLE is being conflated with the web page's one or more H1 tags in this topic.  Just as a book has one title it typically has several chapters.  Hence a web page should have one title and as many H1 tags as is necessary to convey the same structure.  Then within in chapter (section with heading H1) there may or may not be the need to order future sub headings (H2) all related to the H1 above it.
> The alternative - to have only one H1 followed by one or more H2, H3 is disorientating for all users as it is an artificial representation of the data.  For example if the second section (under a H2) of a document bears no relation to the first section (with H1) then semantic markup forces the relationship of the second section to be a child of the first section when there is no such elationship.
> Michael Virant
Received on Wednesday, 2 December 2009 16:08:46 UTC

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