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9:4 Use Unique and Descriptive Headings

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Headings, Titles, and Labels


Guideline:

Use headings that are unique from one another and conceptually related to the content they describe.


Comments:

Ensure that headings are descriptive and relate to the content they introduce. If headings are too similar to one another, users may have to hesitate and re-read to decipher the difference. Identifying the best headings may require extensive usability testing and other methods.


Sources:

  • Bailey, R.W., Koyani, S., & Nall, J. (2000, September 7). Usability testing of several health information Web sites, National Cancer Institute Technical Report. Bethesda, MD.
  • Gerhardt-Powals, J. (1996). Cognitive engineering principles for enhancing human-computer performance. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 8(2), 189-211.
  • Morkes, J. & Nielsen, J. (1998). Applying writing guidelines to Web pages. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/rewriting.html.
  • Williams, T.R. (2000). Guidelines for designing and evaluating the display of information on the Web. Technical Communication, 47(3), 383-396.

Good Example:

These headings are well-designed - they are unique from one another and descriptive of the information to which they link.

09_04_good_example