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Heading

When writing a long text, writers often need to split it into sections. Splitting writing into sections allows writers to communicate their ideas more clearly and makes the text easier for the reader to follow. To indicate what each section is about, writers use short phrases called headings.

Heading Definition

A heading is a title that describes the following section of a text. Writers use headings to organize their writings and help the reader follow the development of their ideas. Headings often take the form of a statement or a question, and the text below expands on that topic.

A heading is a phrase that writers use to succinctly describe the following topic.

Writers often use headings in formal writing, such as academic research papers. They also use them in informal writing, such as blog posts. Headings are quite common in informal writing because readers frequently read through texts like blog posts faster than research papers and often skim through the headings before deciding whether to read the text.

Importance of Heading

Headings are important because they keep writing organized. When writers are writing long texts, such as long academic essays or dense blog posts, using headings helps them outline how they will organize their argument. After crafting an outline, writers often keep the headings in the final draft of their text to help the reader follow along.

Headings are also important for readers. The headings tell the reader what each section of the text is about, making it easier to read through a long, dense text. They also sometimes make it possible for readers to skim a text and decide if its information will be useful. For instance, if a reader wants to know if a scientific study will apply to their literature review, they can find the heading for "results and discussion" or "conclusion" and read those sections before deciding to read an entire paper.

Since headings are so important for guiding readers through a text, headings must be succinct and straightforward. They should tell the reader precisely what the focus of the following section will be.

Heading, Outline, StudySmarterHeadings allow writers to organize the main ideas in their writing. Flaticon.

Heading Characteristics

Headings typically have the following characteristics:

Simple Grammar

Headings are usually not complete sentences. Full sentences require a subject (a person, place, or thing) and a verb (an action that the subject is doing). For instance, a complete sentence about butterflies is: “There are many types of butterflies.”

Headings do not follow the same subject/verb arrangement. Instead, most headings are just subjects. For example, a heading about types of butterflies would not read “There are many types of butterflies” but rather “Types of Butterflies.”

Capitalization

There are two primary ways to capitalize headings: title case and sentence case. Title case is when each word of a heading is capitalized, except for small words and conjunctions such as “but.” Sentence case is when a heading is formatted like a sentence, and only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.

The process of capitalizing headings depends on several factors. For instance, the Modern Language Association (MLA)'s guidelines require writers to use title cases for headings. Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) style guide requires sentence case for headings. The type of language one is writing in also has an influence. For example, writers in American English typically use title case in headings, while writers who write in British English often use sentence case.

Although style guides may suggest different guidelines for capitalizing rules, it is usually a matter of stylistic preference when writers write a text. For instance, bloggers writing a personal blog do not have to follow any specific style and can choose between sentence case and title case based on what they think looks best.

Regardless of whether or not a writer uses sentence case or title case, they have to capitalize proper nouns, which are names of specific people, places, or things. For example, the following heading is in sentence case but the proper nouns are capitalized: Where to eat in Rome.

Clear Language

Writers should use language that is easy to understand in headings. Using esoteric vocabulary or too many words might confuse the reader. Since readers often skim the headings of a text before reading, headings should be straightforward and clearly tell the reader what the section will be about. For instance, the following examples demonstrate the difference between a clear and unclear heading.

Unclear

Seven Different Types of Insects Who Are From What is Called the Macrolepidopteran Clade Rhopalocera

Clear:

Types of Butterflies

Short Length

Headings should be succinct descriptions of the section that follows. The writer goes into more detail about the section's topic in the actual paragraphs, so the headings should describe the main idea in just a few words. For instance, the following examples demonstrate the difference between a succinct heading and one that is too long:

Too Long:

How to Use a Heading In Several Different Types of Writing

Proper Length:

What is a Heading?

Heading Types

There are several types of headings that writers can choose from, depending on the context and style of their writing.

Question Headings

A question heading asks a question that the following section will answer. For instance, a heading for this section might read:

What is a Question Heading?

This heading tells the reader that this section will be about question headings and if they want to know the answer to this question they should read the section.

Heading, Questioin, StudySmarterQuestion headings ask a question the writer will answer in the following section. Flaticon.

Statement Headings

A statement heading is a short, straightforward statement that describes what the following section will discuss. For instance, a statement heading might read:

Three Types of Headings

Topic Headings

Topic headings are the shortest, most general type of heading. They do not provide readers with a lot of information but rather what the topic of the following text will be. Topic headings typically go at the very start of a text like a blog, and more detailed headings are provided for the sections underneath. For instance, an example of a topic heading is

Headings

Subheadings

In a detailed piece of writing, writers sometimes use subheadings to organize their writings. A subheading is a heading that goes under the main heading. Writers make the font size of subheadings smaller than the main heading above it to indicate that it is a subheading. These smaller headings allow writers to break down the topic of the main heading into smaller topics and go in-depth about the idea.

For example, say a travel blogger is writing an article about libraries around the world. They might have a heading that reads: “Libraries in Europe.” However, they might want to discuss libraries in Western Europe and libraries in Eastern Europe separately. To do this, they could use subheadings for each of the topics to go into more detail.

Similarly, an academic researcher might conduct a mixed-method project with both quantitative data collection and qualitative interviews. Under the heading “Results and discussion,” they might use subheadings “Quantitative Findings” and “Qualitative Findings.”

Subheadings can be question headings or statement headings.

If a writer uses headings on a blog or online content creation platform, they can typically format them by selecting the text they want to be a heading or a subheading and then going to the format section. They can then select to format the text as either H1, H2, H3, or H4. These combinations of letters and numbers refer to different levels of headings and subheadings. H1 is the first, most general heading, followed by H2, H3, and H4 as subsequent subheadings. Using such features of content creation platforms helps writers easily organize their writing and craft a clean, clear webpage.

Heading Example

When creating headings for a blog about medieval castles it might look something like this:

Medieval Castles

I have been obsessed with Medieval Castles since I was little. On today's blog, we will check out some of my favorite Medieval Castles around the world!Why visit a Medieval Castle

Before we look at some incredible castles let's talk about why you should visit one. Other than to live out the dream of running in a long flowing dress through the halls of a castle, there are other reasons to add a Medieval Castle to your "places to visit" list on your next trip.....

Now, for what we have all been waiting for. Here are a list of my favorite Medieval Castles.

Medieval Castles in France

First, let's look at French Medieval Castles.

1. Château de Suscinio

Take a look at this gorgeous castle!

As you can see from the example above, headings can make a blog look more organized and easy to navigate. The main heading, "Medieval Castles," tells the reader what the entire article will be about. As we progress through the article, our subheadings will tell us that we are reading a short section on something specific about the main topic. Our first subheading, "Why visit a Medieval Castle," tells us that we are going to take a section of this article that is all about Medieval Castles to discuss specifically why someone should visit them.

No matter what the topic, breaking down a blog or article into sections using headings will make it easy to navigate and easier to read.

Heading - Key Takeaways

  • A heading is a phrase writers use to succinctly describe the following topic of a text.

  • Headings are important because they keep writing organized and help readers follow a text.

  • Headings should be short and have simple grammatical forms and clear language.

  • Headings do not need a subject and verb like a complete sentence.

  • The main types of headings are topic headings, question headings, and statement headings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Heading

A heading is a title that describes the following section of a text. 

An example of a heading is "Types of Headings." 

Headings have simple grammatical form and clear language and they are short in length. 

Headings are important because they keep writing organized and easy to follow. 

The main types of headings are topic headings, question headings, statement headings, and subheadings. 

Final Heading Quiz

Question

What is a heading?

Show answer

Answer

A heading is a phrase that writers use to succinctly describe the following topic of a text.


Show question

Question

Which of the following is a proper heading? 

Show answer

Answer

Best Beaches in Greece

Show question

Question

Which of the following is a topic heading? 


Show answer

Answer

Beaches

Show question

Question

True or False. Headings are only in academic research papers. 


Show answer

Answer

False. Writers of all kinds of texts like blogs and websites frequently use headings to organize their writing. 


Show question

Question

What is a subheading? 


Show answer

Answer

Smaller headings that divide a topic into multiple sectiions

Show question

Question

Which of the following is a statement heading? 


Show answer

Answer

Best Castles in Germany

Show question

Question

True or False. The longer the heading the better. 


Show answer

Answer

False. Headings should be short and to the point. 

Show question

Question

Why are headings important? 


Show answer

Answer

They help writers organize their ideas and make it easier for the reader to follow the development of their ideas. 


Show question

Question

Which of the following is an example of a heading?


Show answer

Answer

Results and Discussion

Show question

Question

True or False. Headings need a subject and a verb

Show answer

Answer

False. Most headings have only a subject. 

Show question

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