What Is a Side Heading in a Letter?

by Ocean Malandra; Updated September 26, 2017
Use side heading to organize your letter.

Side headings are used to break up the subject matter that has already been organized under a heading even further. Side headings are used often in scientific and academic papers, where a subject is introduced with a heading and then further developed in different sections under subheadings. Although not often used in personal letters, side headings allow those writing formal letters to organize the points they want to make in a logical and progressive fashion.


Side headings are set to the far left of the page and come immediately before a new section. Indent the first sentence of the new section just like a paragraph so that there is white space underneath the side heading. Side headings are also usually underlined, which serves to show that they mark a break from the section that came before them. Side headings can be bolded or completely capitalized, depending on your preference and how you want your letter to appear aesthetically.


Side headings are useful for listing ideas, suggestions or even points of an argument in a formal letter. Use the underlined heading to help the reader understand and easily comprehend just what the points you are trying to make are, and then use the sections below each side heading to expand, explain and clarify each of the points or items.

Time Sequences

Side headings can also be used to break a letter down in terms of historical progression or timelines. Use the side headings to let the reader know where, chronologically, each section is. This is particularly useful in long letters that describe an event that took place, as it allows the reader to skim ahead to get to the relevant section.

Cover Letters

Side headings are a useful component to integrate into cover letters when applying for jobs. They allow you to organize a long cover letter into bite-sized bits that focus on particular areas and help potential employers navigate the letter. The side headings can be used to highlight particular areas of expertise or experience and allow you to expand on its relevancy in the section below.

About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Ocean Malandra is a travel writer, author and documentary filmmaker. He runs a major San Francisco travel website, is widely published in both online and print publications and has contributed to several travel guidebooks to South America.

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