How do I create an accessible document using Microsoft Word?

For an individual with disabilities, much of the success in using a Word document depends on how it was created. When authoring documents using Microsoft Word, it's important to follow a few basic steps to ensure your document is readable.

Following are the basic concepts. For detailed instructions, see the Microsoft Office help article, Creating accessible Word documents.

Use headings

Use headings and subheadings (created using the heading styles) to structure content. The headings levels should follow your page's outline structure. Appropriate use of heading levels will help a screen reader user interpret how the page is organized, allowing for quick navigation to different content areas.

Use lists

Use Word's bullet or numbering tool when presenting information as a list. A screen reader will inform the user of the properties of the list, which will help with content navigation.

Add alternate text for images

Users who cannot see images must rely on you, the author, to provide alternate text to describe the content of an image. The alternate text should be succinct, convey the important information, and not overburden the reader. Add the alternate text to the description field in the "Format Picture" dialog.

Note:
If images are purely decorative, and offer no informative content, alternate text is not required.

Tables

Use tables only to convey relationships between data, and not to control layout. Keep tables as simple as possible, and divide complex tables into multiple simpler tables if possible. Be sure to clearly label row and column headers as well.

For more information

This is document bfty in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2015-10-16 00:00:00.

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