On this page: Background and Purpose | Instructions | Manual Style Checking | Bookmarks | Guidelines and Standards

Headings and Bookmarks (MS Word)

Background and Purpose

Note:  This page may apply to multiple individual checkpoints in CommonLook Office, depending on the standard selected.

When styles are used correctly in MS Word, assistive technologies are not only able to convey the document’s structure, but also allow users to navigate more efficiently through the document.

The Purpose behind these checkpoints is for the user to ensure that styles have been used correctly in order to define the structure of the Word document, to help with navigation in the PDF, and, through the creation of bookmarks, to facilitate other means of navigation.


CommonLook Office will stop on this checkpoint if heading styles have not been used in the document or if the checkpoint preference is set to always stop.  Refer to the section below on “Manual Style Checking” for instructions on how to change the checkpoint preference.

When the CommonLook Office stops on this checkpoint, do the following steps:

Follow the steps below for each of the Heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc) displayed in the “Styles in Document” list.

  1. All of the styles used in the document will be listed in the “Styles in Document” (upper) panel.  Choose the first style.
  2. The “Style Usage in Document” (lower) panel will list all of the occurrences of the particular style chosen in step 1.  Sequentially select each occurrence of the style.  When selected, that particular section in the document will be highlighted as well.  Verify that the correct style is being used for the highlighted text.
  3. Edit the Word document as needed, using proper headings or other styles. For example, Heading 1 should be used for the document title, Heading 2 is used to designate major sections in the document such as chapters, and Heading 3 is used for subsections within a particular chapter or major section.
    Important Note:  Headings should be assigned using the appropriate style; not simply created by changing font options such as size, boldness, underlined, etc.
  4. Repeat the steps above for the other styles listed in the “Styles in Document” (upper) panel.

Screenshot of CommonLook Office checking that the correct style is used for the selected text.

Manual Style Checking

By default, CommonLook Office does not run this checkpoint unless headings have not been used in the document.  However, when heading styles are used, this checkpoint may be run manually to verify that they have been used appropriately.

To run this checkpoint once, in the current document being worked on, navigate to the “All Checkpoints” tab (#1), choose the checkpoint from the list (#2), and then go back to the “Current Checkpoints” tab (#3).  Follow the instructions as outlined in the previous section.

Screen shot for how to manually run a checkpoint in CommonLook Office Global Access.

To set the software to run the checkpoint every time, even when heading styles are used in the document, go to the “All Checkpoints” tab and choose the checkpoint from the list.  Next, select the “Checkpoint Preferences” tab.  Finally, navigate to “Checkpoint Navigation Mode” and, using the dropdown menu, set the mode to “AlwaysStop.”

Screen Shot in CommonLook Office Global Access showing the Checkpoint Preference being set to Always Stop.


When heading styles have been correctly assigned in the Word document, CommonLook Office will use this information to generate bookmarks and page labels in the resulting PDF.

The screenshot below shows the checkbox to use, in the Styles checkpoint, to automatically create bookmarks based on heading levels.

Screen shot showing the checkbox to generate bookmarks from heading level tags.

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 Specified
W3C WCAG 2.0
(REVISED SECTION 508 – 2017)
2008Web ContentSC 2.4.5
SC 2.4.6
SC 2.4.10
Health and Human Services – HHS (USA)2013PDF File 508 ChecklistID 2.2
ID 3.3
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)2012PDF TechnologySection 7.4
Section 7.17