How do I apply headings in Canvas?

Headings are often used as the sole method for navigation for those using a screen reader or other assistive technology. It allows technology to navigate more effectively and serves as a method for jumping around text to get to the exact spot needed.

The screen reader allows you to drill down from higher heading to lower heading. This means you can list all heading level 3s under a specific heading level 2 for more precision. One suggestion is if you provide an action item in the text page, provide a heading over that, so the student can skim directly to the homework, additional reading, etc. A well-aligned page should have headings with an appropriate level of complexity:

  1. Heading Level 1 is the title of the page, placed by Canvas, you will always have this. If the page is noticeably short, less than 100 words, it can be left with no additional headings.
  2. Heading Level 2 is the highest-level separations within the canvas shell and should be used to chunk major topics in material. 
  3. Heading Level 3 and lower should be used for text-heavy pages and should be used to give additional structure to the document. 
  4. The Heading levels should form a tree, where each heading is preceded by the level one above it.

What do headings look like using JAWS?

The heading structure in the image below is clear and easy to navigate. Each heading is descriptive and is in the proper order. For those who use JAWS, they are able to navigate this content with ease.

Sample of heading structure when using JAWS

Example Canvas page with and without headings

The following image represents a canvas page that has both headings applied and not applied. Option 2 shows the correct version and clearly shows the benefits of applying headings to a page.

Sample heading structure

Things to consider with headings

  • Avoid using all capital letters, underlining, or bolding as the only means of emphasis.
  • Using a larger font or different color does not automatically indicate to a user that a page has headings. You must still mark headers using the rich content editor.
  • Headings must be in order.

Video overview on how to apply headings in Canvas

Instructional Guide – How to apply headings to a Canvas page

Step 1: Ensure you are in edit mode

Ensure you are in edit mode

Step 2: Select the text you would like to make a heading

Click and drag your mouse or click into the line

Selecting text before applying a aheading

Step 3: Choose the heading level from the drop-down menu or the format tab. Option 1 as indicated below is the easiest.

Step 3: Choose the heading level from the drop-down menu or the format tab. Option 1 as indicated below is the easiest.

Need to learn about other accessibility elements within Canvas?

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