How to Add Headings in Google Docs


Matthew Burleigh

Adding headings in Google Docs is a breeze once you know where to look. Just click on the Styles menu, usually showing ‘Normal text’ by default, then select one of the heading styles. You’ll see your text transform instantly, and this change will help you organize your document more effectively.

After you apply headings, your document will not only look more professional, but you’ll also be able to navigate it easily, especially if it’s a lengthy one. Plus, with proper headings, creating a table of contents can be done with just a few clicks.


Ever found yourself lost in a sea of text in a Google Doc? You’re typing away, or reading through a lengthy report, and suddenly, everything looks the same. Frustrating, right? Well, headings are like a lighthouse in that sea of text—they guide readers through your document, breaking it up into manageable, organized sections. This isn’t just about making things look pretty; it’s about clarity and functionality.

So, who needs to know about adding headings in Google Docs? The answer is pretty much everyone. If you’re a student, a teacher, a professional, or even someone jotting down recipes or writing a journal, headings can help you. Think about it: wouldn’t you rather read something that’s neatly divided into sections than one long chunk of text? Absolutely! Plus, when your document looks organized, it doesn’t just reflect well on the content but on you too. It shows that you’re someone who values clarity and organization. Let’s dive into the ‘how-to’ and make sure your next Google Doc is as shipshape as can be.

Related: How to Track Changes in Google Docs

A Step by Step Tutorial

This tutorial will walk you through the process of adding and customizing headings in your Google Docs to enhance the structure and accessibility of your document.

Step 1: Open the Styles Menu

Select the text you want to turn into a heading.

Once you’ve highlighted the text, you’ll find the Styles menu in the toolbar. It usually shows the current style, like ‘Normal text’.

Step 2: Choose Your Heading Style

Click on the Styles dropdown and select a heading.

There are several heading options: Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc. These are designed to provide a hierarchical structure to your document, with Heading 1 being the highest level, usually used for titles or main sections.

Step 3: Customize Your Headings

Modify the heading style if needed.

Google Docs allows you to change the font, size, color, and more of your headings. If you make a change to a heading style, Google Docs offers you the option to update the style for that document or apply it to new documents.


Easily Organize Documents

Headings help divide text into sections.

When you use headings, your document instantly becomes more structured. Readers can quickly scan through and find the parts that are relevant to them.

Improved Navigation

Headings facilitate document navigation.

Especially in longer documents, headings are essential. They can also be used to generate a clickable table of contents, which takes you to different sections of the document with one click.

Consistent Formatting

Maintains a uniform appearance across your document.

When you use headings properly, your document has a consistent, professional look. This uniformity is key in formal or academic writing, where presentation is nearly as important as content.


Can Overcomplicate Simple Documents

Not every document needs headings.

For shorter or simpler documents, using headings might be overkill. It can make a simple note look like a formal report, which might not always be necessary.

Requires Understanding of Hierarchical Structure

You need to know how to use headings correctly.

If used incorrectly, headings can confuse rather than help. Ensuring that you follow the hierarchy of heading levels is crucial for them to be effective.

Potential for Clutter

Too many headings can make a document look busy.

While headings are meant to organize, using too many or not spacing them out properly can actually make your document look cluttered and be counterproductive.

Additional Information

When you’re getting the hang of headings, remember a few extra tips. First, less is more. Don’t get carried away with too many sub-level headings. Stick to the main ones unless you really need to break down a section further. Second, be consistent with your formatting. If Heading 1 is bold and centered, keep it that way throughout your document. Consistency helps readability.

Here’s another pro tip: Use keyboard shortcuts. For example, pressing ‘Ctrl’ (or ‘Command’ on Mac) plus the corresponding number for a heading (e.g., ‘Ctrl+1’ for Heading 1) can speed up your formatting process. And don’t forget about Google Doc’s Outline feature. It uses headings to create an outline pane on the left side of your document window, which can be incredibly handy for quick navigation


  1. Open the Styles Menu
  2. Choose Your Heading Style
  3. Customize Your Headings

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I create my own heading styles?

Yes, you can modify an existing heading style and set it as the default for that document or for new documents.

How do I view the document outline?

Go to the View menu, and check the ‘Show document outline’ option—headings will populate this outline for easy navigation.

Is there a limit to how many heading levels I can use?

Google Docs offers up to six levels of headings, from Heading 1 to Heading 6.

Can I add headings on the Google Docs mobile app?

Yes, the Google Docs mobile app allows you to add and edit headings just as you would on the desktop version.

Will my headings be included if I convert my Google Doc to a PDF?

Yes, when you download your document as a PDF, the headings and the overall formatting will be preserved.


Headings are more than just large, bold text at the start of a section; they’re the roadmap that guides readers through your document. They give a preview of what’s to come and help to mentally organize the information as one reads. Learning to effectively use headings can transform your documents from a jumble of text into a well-organized, professional-looking masterpiece. And the beauty of it is, it’s not complicated. With just a few clicks in Google Docs, you can master the art of headings. Whether you’re working on a thesis, a project proposal, or even a community newsletter, take the time to structure your document with headings. Your readers will thank you for it.

Matthew Burleigh

Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech content online for more than ten years. He enjoys writing about Google Docs in addition to many other applications and devices and has cumulatively covered Google’s word-processing application in hundreds of different articles.

He has been published on dozens of popular websites, and his works have accumulated millions of pageviews.
While focused primarily on tutorials and guides for popular electronics like the iPhone and iPad, as well as common applications like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, he covers topics across the entire technology spectrum.

You can read his bio here.

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