On this page: Background and Purpose | Instructions | Guidelines and Standards

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 more easily 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 screenshot below):

  1. Select 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:
    Section 508 – 2001 Regulations (USA)Logical Heading Levels
    W3C WCAG 2.0
    (REVISED SECTION 508 – 2017)
    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 (H1) should be used for the Title slide (the first one in the presentation), Heading 2 (H2) is used to designate major sections in the presentation, similar to chapters in a book, and Heading 3 (H3) is used for subsections within a particular chapter or major section.  It might help to think of headings like an outline.

Screenshot of the Panels in CommonLook Office 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:

DocumentPublishedScopeConformance Criteria
Section 508 – 2001 Regulations (USA)2001“Web-Based Information & Applications”Not required
W3C WCAG 2.0
(REVISED SECTION 508 – 2017)
2008Web ContentSC 2.4.6
SC 2.4.10
Health and Human Services – HHS (USA)2013PDF File 508 ChecklistID 3.4
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)2012PDF TechnologySection 7.4