Format your headings like a pro

Lesley Hanes | August 11, 2017

When you add headings to your text, you help your readers find and understand your content. But if your headings aren’t well formatted, they won’t work the way you hope.

Three major formatting mistakes to avoid are:

So what should you do instead?

Tip 1: Make your headings stand out

Headings need to stand out — they like attention! They relish the chance to show your readers around your content and point out your main messages. If you make your headings bigger than your text, they can do their job more easily.

Image, example of heading that stands out.

Tip 2: Tie your headings to their text

Your headings need to belong to their text — don’t leave them floating in space. To tie your headings to their text, add more space above them than below. Your readers will instantly sense which headings belong with what text.

Image, examples of tied and floating headings.


Tip 3: Use proportionate heading sizes

Your headings need to drop down proportionately in size so your readers can see the hierarchy — which content is a subset of what. Proportionate sizes look more professional too.

Image, example of heading hierarchy.

Word and Google Docs both have styles you can use to set heading sizes. Keep your headings proportional by reducing their size gradually in your hierarchy, so the levels are clear.

Get more tips to help you format like a pro on our Business Writing workshop, which covers layout and presentation.

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.