Subheadings make text easier to read

Improve readability with subheadings

Bite-sized chunks

Readers like to have their text broken up by subheadings into bite-sized chunks for easy digestion and scanning so I add lots of subheadings.

The subheadings are reflected in the table of contents, where your readers can see an overview of your argument and logic.

Beginning, middle and end

All the way through a document, you should tell the reader what the next chapter, section or subsection will cover, then you must say what you said you would say, and at the end of each section, you should summarise what you said.  Each reiteration reinforces your argument.

Learning by repetition

Reading a document is actually a learning process, and human beings learn by repetition, building on what they knew before.  The table of contents and the list at the beginning of each section both introduce a new idea, the middle of the section explains it, and the summary clarifies it.

By the time they read the concluding summary, your readers will have learned something new.

Understanding brings acceptance

Your readers are your target audience.   They may be examiners, customers, strangers, pupils, colleagues, friends…  Your document has to make sense to them.   If they can understand it, they can accept it.  You have made your point.

What are technical manuals?

Technical Manuals

Technical manuals contain step-by-step instructions in plain language.

There are Description, Maintenance, Operation, Overhaul, and Service Manuals, as well as Illustrated Parts Catalogues (IPCs) and lists of effective pages (LEPs).

They are compiled by a technical author like Graham Denniston.

Word Heading Styles and the Table of Contents


Microsoft Word can add an automatic, updatable table of contents (TOC) to your document – but only if your headings have a style applied.

Heading 1

Apply the Heading 1 style to your main headings by putting your cursor in them and pressing Ctrl+alt+1.  The heading above this paragraph is in Heading 1 style. I will tell you another time how to change what a style looks like.

Heading 2

Apply Heading 2 style to sub-headings that fall under a heading level 1 by putting your cursor in them and pressing Ctrl+alt+2. The heading above this paragraph is  in Heading 2 style.

Heading 3

If there is any sub-heading under a Heading 2 heading, apply Heading 3 style by putting your cursor in it and pressing Ctrl+alt+3. The heading above this paragraph is  in Heading 2 style.

Put your cursor in each paragraph, and look at Home > Styles. You will see the relevant style name with a block around it. You can also apply the style by putting your cursor in a paragraph and choosing from Home > Styles.

    1. Put your cursor where you want your TOC to be.
    2. Go to the References tab, look to the far left and click on Table of Contents > Automatic Table 1. Word will insert a TOC called “Table of Contents” showing heading levels 1-3.
    3. To update it, put your cursor in the TOC and press F9.  Do not try to type in changes in the TOC. make changes to the actual headings and then press F9 in the TOC.

Excel headers and footers

When do you need an Excel header or footer?

I had an Excel list of documents for which I wanted a signature to acknowledge receipt.

All I had to do was go to Page Layout > Print Titles > Header/Footer > Custom Footer. On the left, I drew an underscore line with a space under it for the name and signature. On the right, I clicked on the Date icon to  add the field that would display the current date when I printed the workbook (&Date ).

So many people do not know how to use the headers and footers in Excel. Click here if you want to know more.

Excel tables

Format an Excel table

I used Directory List & Print freeware to list documents in a folder. Then I made the list pretty at the press of Ctrl+t.

So many people do not know how easy it is to format a table in Excel. Click here if you want to know more.

Welcome to Anne Denniston’s Blog Page

I am so glad you got here.

I usually add a post every week related to the things that concern me: editing, formatting and Excel – but those topics are fairly wide-ranging and varied.

  • Click here to see an alphabetical list of the posts.
  • The categories are in a dropdown list on the right.

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