Purpose I Background I Instructions I Manual Style Checking


Ensure that appropriate heading styles have been applied to define the structure of the Word document.


Headings are particularly important as they are often used to perceive a document’s structure and to navigate through a document. The proper use of styles to denote headings (as opposed to merely using visual clues like bold text to indicate a new section) enables assistive technologies to also identify the various headings and sections in a document.  As a result, people using assistive technology are able to navigate their way through the document as well.


This checkpoint will display a warning if no heading styles are used in the document.

Picture of the CommonLook Office panel displaying a warning that no heading styles are used and and showing the styles used in the Word document and where they are used side by side with the word document.

Edit the Word document to use the proper heading levels (Heading 1 for top level headings, Heading 2 for subheadings within a Heading 1 section, etc.)

Manual Style Checking

By default, CommonLook Office does not run the Styles checkpoint unless no headings are detected. However, if you wish to run the checkpoint manually to check the use of headings and other styles, then set the Checkpoint Navigation Mode to ‘AlwaysStop’ in the Preferences Tab to ensure CommonLook Office always runs this checkpoint.

Navigation Mode.jpg


Once the checkpoint is run, do the following:

For each of the Heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc) displayed in the Styles in Document list:

  1. Select the style from the list. The Style Usage in Document will show all instances of text in the document where the selected style is used.
  2. Select each of the instances in the Style Usage in Document list. As you select each instance, the text will be highlighted in the document.
  3. Confirm the selected instance denotes the correct heading level (Heading 1 for top level headings, Heading 2 for subheadings within a Heading 1 section, etc.)
  4. Visually scan the document to verify all text headings use an appropriate heading style (for example, there should be no headings created using a large or bold font without the use of an appropriate heading style).





NOTE: While you may want to check the proper use of style for all the styles used in the document, special attention should be paid to the heading styles since they are typically used by assistive technology for basic navigation in PDF. 

Guidelines and Standards

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

DocumentPublishedScopeConformance Criteria
Section 508 (USA)2001“Web-Based Information & Applications”Not required
W3C WCAG 2.02008Web ContentSC 1.3.1
SC 2.4.6
SC 2.4.10
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)2012PDF TechnologySection 7.4