A sub-heading is a mini-headline given to a subsection or paragraph within a central piece of writing.
What does Sub-Heading Mean?
A sub-heading is a mini-headline given to a subsection or paragraph within a central piece of writing. Subheadings are smaller than the main heading but more extensive than the paragraph text of the article.
Subheadings often appear in non-fiction writing, such as instruction or informational texts. They capture the reader’s attention to keep them reading down the page, following each sub-heading.
Without sub-headings, texts would be long paragraphs of text. That isn’t easy to read through!
Importance of Using Sub-Headings
The primary purpose of sub-headings is to grab the reader’s attention. They’re meant to stand out, which is why they’re written in a large font and are snappy.
Some sub-headings are purely informational. Subheadings act as a guide to serve the reader through the page until they’ve found what they’re looking for.
For example, if you’re reading a recipe, you might scan to find the ‘Ingredients’ sub-heading so that you can read what ingredients you need.
You might also find sub-headings listed on the contents page of a non-fiction text. It allows the reader to find the right page based on the sub-heading.
Interesting sub-headings are used in texts such as newspaper articles or blog posts. They encourage the reader to keep reading and help break the text into manageable chunks.
Subheadings are like hooks – they get the reader to stop, look, and read through the information.
How to Write Interesting Sub-Headings
When writing a sub-heading, it’s essential to know what content will be written in the paragraph underneath. So, first, establish what the section is about and the most critical part of the paragraph.
Sub-headings should ideally be:
- Useful – To benefit the reader;
- Unique – To share information that the reader may not be aware of;
- Ultra-Specific – To ensure the reader knows what is being said;
- Urgent – To get the reader’s attention.
Heading and Sub-heading Examples
Subheadings and headings have similar functions, but there’s one key difference between them.
Headings appear once at the beginning of the text, whereas multiple sub-headings can occur throughout the text. The header is the title, and the sub-headings split the text into sections or paragraphs.
Subheadings are sometimes called mini-titles. It can be helpful to think of them that way because they provide titles for specific text sections.
Here are some heading and sub-heading examples: the header is highlighted in red, and the sub-heading is in blue.
Example 1 (Fact File)
Clownfish and Anemones: Friends for Life
Clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemones.
Blue Whales: The Largest Mammal on Earth
Not only are blue whales the most notable species of whale, but they’re also the largest mammal on Earth.
Example 2 (List)
Countries in Europe
Example 3 (Biography)
The Life of Santa Claus
Father Christmas’ Early Years
When Father Christmas was a little boy.
A Fateful Meeting with Rudolph
On one fateful day, Santa came across a reindeer different from any other.
Example 4 (Contents Page)
The Most Delicious Pastries in the World
- Paris’ Best Croissants (1-2)
- Japan’s Mouthwatering Mochi (3-4)
- Dreamy Brazilian Sonho (5-6)
- Crunchy Cannoli from Italy (7-8)
How many sub-headings should you use?
How many sub-headings you use usually depends on your writing content and how much of it there is.
Subheadings help break up a text and make it more manageable to read and scan. So, if the text is short, it might not even need sub-headings at all.
On the other hand, longer writing pieces may need many more sub-headings. It varies from text to text.
Generally, however, sub-headings should be used to break up text sections. For example, if the next paragraph moves onto an entirely different subject, it would be a good idea to use a sub-heading above it to signal that you’re moving on to something else.
The thought process is similar to when to start a new paragraph, but you don’t always need a sub-heading for every new paragraph. Instead, subheadings should group linked paragraphs and separate the general sections of a piece of work.
For example, suppose you were writing a non-chronological report about mammals that live in the Amazon rainforest. In that case, you might have sub-headings for each mammal or each rainforest layer.