Common Header Errors in Canvas

Headers should be applied in Canvas any time there is a topic change or something of great importance. If you are bolding something near the top of the page – it probably should be a header instead. Headings provide multiple benefits, but for a student using a screen reader, it allows them to navigate more effectively. Effective use of headings can allow that student to drill down to what they need to access rather than requiring that they read the whole page.

  • Underlined text instead of using a header
    • This is a visual feature. If it is important enough to underline – it’s probably important enough to be a header.
  • Bold text instead of using a header
    • This is a visual feature. If it is important enough to bold – it’s probably important enough to be a header
  • Font color change instead of using a header
    • This is a visual feature. If it is important enough to change the color – it’s probably important enough to be a header
  • All capital letters at the top of the page.
    • This is a visual feature. If it is important enough to use all caps– it’s probably important enough to be a header
  • Skipped Headings
    • All headers should go in order. The title of the canvas page is always an h1. Subsequent headers should go in order starting with h2, h3, h4. Do not skip from an h1 to an h4.
Common header errors in canvas

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 very 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.
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