illustration of a web page

Creating Accessible Rich Text

Clear structure is a fundamental accessibility rule that can be applied to web content as well as other digital formats. Organized pages benefit everyone. Pages with a clear layout and descriptive links are easier for users to navigate and read.

How to Get Started

Properly nest all headings in descending order

  • The page title is considered an H1 heading, so the first heading created for the page should be an H2.
  • When nesting headings, remember not to skip levels when creating sub-sections. For example, an H2 heading can be followed by an H3 but not an H4.
  • Don’t use the heading format solely for aesthetic purposes. To call out an important point, consider making that sentence bold or, for NYU CMS content authors, applying the callout text style instead of incorrectly applying a heading format.

This example shows the semantic markup options in the NYU CMS using the editor toolbar for the rich text component. Use the format menu to create headings.

screenshot showing heading options in the NYU CMS using the text editor toolbar


Avoid full URLs:

Use hyperlinks with descriptive text instead of pasting the URL.

  • Avoid:
  • Use Instead: NYU Digital Accessibility

Avoid non-descriptive hyperlinks:

Screen readers cannot provide context to a link beyond the linked text — which means multiple “click here” links on a page all appear to be the same.

Include file type and size:

When linking a file, provide the file type and size as part of the linked text. For example, NYU Identity Style Guide (PDF: 367 KB).

Accessibility Checklist

  • Properly nest all headings in descending order
  • Use descriptive text when sharing links; avoid "click here" or "read more"
  • Check each section heading on the page. Is it identified as a heading?
  • Is the heading given an appropriate level of hierarchy for the page structure?