Microsoft Documents

In addition to the tools and internal accessibility checker Microsoft provides, there are a few basic practices that you can use to help keep your documents accessible across Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.

Basic best practices

  • Use the inbuilt heading styles to communicate hierarchy and structure. Readers using assistive technologies often use headings to navigate through a document.
  • Add descriptive text (alternate text) to convey the purpose and content of any image or graphic.
  • Use the Page Layout and formatting features offered. Set margins, columns, or indentation instead of using tabs or spaces. Use page breaks, not multiple hard returns.
  • When making a list, use the formatting provided rather than inserting characters or numbering items manually.
    • If the order of the items matters, use the numbered lists. If the order doesn’t matter, use a bulleted list.
  • Use meaningful link text when hyperlinking.
  • Use tables only when necessary. Accessible tables need at least one header (row and/or column)and an alt-text description summarizing the table.
  • Make sure font is legible–at least 12pts with sufficient color contrast between the text and background.
  • Use the inbuilt accessibility checker. Though it cannot ensure the document is completely accessible, it is a good place to start.

How to save as a PDF

If you need to create a PDF, save the document as a PDF. (File > Save As Adobe PDF)
In the Options section, check the boxes to:

  • Convert document information
  • Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF
  • Create Bookmarks
  • Convert Word Headings to Bookmark

Note: Never choose a “Print” to PDF option in Office, or in any other program. Heading structure, alternative text, and any other hierarchical structure will be lost.