Create Accessible Microsoft Office Documents

This article is based on the recommendations from Brown's Digital Accessibilty Working Group. Please view their recommendations for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information. 

Microsoft Office Accessibility Resources

Basic Accessibility Tips

Use Headings

You may have noticed heading styles in Word documents. These aren't just for changing appearance - they tell a story about the structure of your document. In order to make an accessible document, you should use these heading styles appropriately to organize the document. 

Instructions: Improve Header Accessibility

More tips from Microsoft's Word accessibility checklist:

  • Write short, concise headings that include keywords.
  • Write headings that give people good clues about the information that follows them.
  • Arrange headings in order – H3 headings under H2, H2 headings under H1, and so on.
  • Make sure each heading contains no more than 2-3 paragraphs of content.

Add Image Alt Tags

If there are images in your document, someone with a screen reader will hear a description of the image. This description comes from the image's Alt Tag. You should always include Alt Tags for images in your document, otherwise they can not be read by someone with a visual impairment. This is especially important when the image contains text or is necessary to understand the meaning of your document. 

Instructions: Improve Accessibility with Alt Tags (Word), Improve Image Accessibility in PowerPoint

More tips from Microsoft's Word accessibility checklist:

  • Write Alt Text that describes what’s important in the image for this article.
  • If you included an image for visual emphasis or decoration, write “ “ (Double quote –space – double quote) in the Alt Text title and description. This tells screen reader software to skip over the image, and not describe it for a blind person.
  • If the image contains text, repeat the text exactly in the Alt Text description or adjacent content.

 Remove Inaccessible Elements


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