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Titles and Headings

Effective titles and headings help users scan webpages. They improve search engine optimization (SEO).

Title (H1) case


  • The first word
  • All “major” words: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and pronouns
  • Prepositions of four or more letters (for example: over, from, with)
  • Conjunctions of four or more letters (for example: unless, than)
  • Ifandhow, why – if you use as conjunctions
  • To – if you use it as part of an infinitive

Only capitalize articles (a, an, and, as, but, for, if, in, nor, of, on, or, the, to [as a preposition], or up) if it’s the first word in the title.

General rules for titles

Titles must be fewer than eight words long. If you include a program or other proper name plus its acronym, and that creates a title that's longer than eight words, use only the acronym(s).

Header case (H2, H3, H4, and H5)

  • Capitalize the first word.
  • Use lowercase for all other words, except for proper nouns.

Rules that apply to both H1 and H2-H5

  • Aim for eight words or less.
  • Make meaningful, strong, unique, descriptive, and clear.
  • Use numerals—do not spell out numbers.
  • Avoid ineffective headings
    • Introduction
    • Welcome
    • Overview
    • About…
    • Background
    • Questions & Answers
    • More Information
  • Put in order: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5
  • Do not use a link.


  • Front-load headings with keywords—the words and phrases people may use in search engines.
  • Eye tracking studies show that readers pay most attention to the first few words.
  • Active voice and positive statements are best.
    Example of active voice: The subject performs the action. The man grabbed the ball.
    Example of passive voice: The subject is acted upon. The ball was grabbed by the man.


  • Set the titles of books, journals, and magazines in italics.
  • Do not set the titles of published reports in italics.
  • Use quotations, not italics, for chapters in books, sections of reports, and articles in journals or magazines.
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