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Heading Levels – Skipped or Nested (MS PowerPoint)

Background and Purpose

When headings are used correctly in a PDF, assistive technologies are not only able to convey the document’s structure, but also allow users to navigate through the document.

The Purpose of this checkpoint is to ensure that heading levels have been not been skipped.  For example, a heading 1 cannot be followed by a heading 3 (without a heading 2 in-between).


CommonLook Office will display a warning message for each instance of skipped heading levels. To correct the problem, follow these steps (also illustrated in the screen shot below):

  1. Click on the “All Checkpoints” tab and choose the checkpoint related to “Style Mapping.” To assist in finding the Checkpoint that relates to “Style Mapping” refer to this table:
    Standard Checkpoint
    Section 508 – 2001 Regulations (USA) Logical Heading Levels
    W3C WCAG 2.0 1.3.1 – Style Mapping
    Health and Human Services – HHS (USA) 3.3 – Styles Used
    ISO 14289 (PDF/UA) 7.1 – Role Maps – Styles
  2. Return to the “Current Checkpoint” tab.
  3. Locate the slide that has the incorrect heading level, select the incorrectly marked element on the slide (probably the title element) and change the PDF tag (at the bottom of the panel) so that skipped headings do not occur.

Note:  Heading 1 should be used for the Title slide (the first one in the presentation), Heading 2 is used to designate major sections in the presentation, similar to chapters in a book, and Heading 3 is used for subsections within a particular chapter or major section.

Screen shot of the Panels in CommonLook Office Global Access showing skipped heading levels and the steps as outlined to fix the error.

Guidelines and Standards

This checkpoint is relevant to the following regulations, guidelines and standards:

Document Published Scope Conformance Criteria
Section 508 – 2001 Regulations (USA) 2001 “Web-Based Information & Applications” Not required
W3C WCAG 2.0 2008 Web Content SC 2.4.6
SC 2.4.10
Health and Human Services – HHS (USA) 2013 PDF File 508 Checklist ID 3.4
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA) 2012 PDF Technology Section 7.4

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