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Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings

Author: Melissa Stephenson
  1. Explain how to signal important points with the use of headings and subheadings.

  2. Explain how to format headings and subheadings.

  3. Review appropriate language for headings and subheadings.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to write a paper and who is confused about how to incorporate headings and subheadings. It will explain the function of headings and subheadings and how to format them.

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Headings and Subheadings

This video explains how to use headings and subheadings to alert the reader of important points and their subtopics.

Source: Diana Hacker, Melissa Stephenson

Formatting Headings and Subheadings

This video explains how to properly format headings and subheadings in a document.

Source: Diana Hacker, Melissa Stephenson

Appropriate Language for Headings and Subheadings

Appropriate Language for Headings and Subheadings

  • Use parallel structure among each level of organization—all headings should be consistently written in the same grammatical format, as well as all subheadings


  • Use phrases and be as brief and as informative as possible


Appropriate language

 -ing phrases

Phrases beginning with gerunds to indicate action so they are appropriate headings for documents that focus on solving problems

Maintaining parental control

Decreasing the national budget

Increasing your savings


Noun phrases

Phrases that are usually concise and work well in professional and academic contexts and are appropriate for documents that survey a variety of persons, places, or things.

International results

Bypass method

Sales projections



Questions can generate interest in a document by drawing the reader’s personal interest into the document. Question headings are useful in research essays.

How do I earn more interest?

How can I lose ten pounds?

What exemptions can I claim on my taxes?


Imperative phrases

Phrases whose purpose is to give advice to readers; usually begins with a verb because the subject is an understood You

Drink eight glasses of water

Exercise at least twenty minutes

Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables

Source: diana hacker