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Style sheets

Use style sheets to format the text in your document (heading 1, heading 2, body text, etc.). Remember to put the headings in hierarchical order so that Heading 1 comes first and then 2 and 3, then it is easier to navigate the document for those who use screen readers.

Caption and alt text

Give pictures, illustrations, and graphs a caption and an alt text that briefly describes the content of the image, or mark the image as decorative. Alt text is a description that is read by screen readers.


Improve the readability of the information by creating a high contrast between the color of the text and the background. Avoid putting text on top of a photo or pattern, as it can be difficult to distinguish the text.


If you have links in your document, be sure to print out where you go if you click on the link. Also, avoid printing the web address in plain text, as it is read out if you use a screen reader or speech synthesizer.

Use tables correctly

Do not use tables to change the layout of your document, but only to communicate relationships between data. Try to keep the table as simple as possible with rows and columns; avoid split cells, merged cells, or collapsed tables. If your table becomes too complex, consider whether you can divide it into several smaller tables with a heading above each table. In order for data tables to be more accessible to screen readers, it is important to clearly identify column and row headings.

Document title and file name

Give the document a descriptive title. You can change the title here.

Word on PC: File > Info > Properties
Word on MAC: File > Properties > Summary

It is also important that you give the document a descriptive file name that makes it easier for the reader to understand what the document contains without having to download and open the file.

Avoid: (20210413.pdf)
Aim for: (Meeting protocol 2021-04-13.pdf)

Check accessibility

There is a built-in accessibility check in Word. Go to Review> Check accessibility. This check reviews your document and warns you if it finds parts that affect the availability of the document.

Microsoft powerpoint

PowerPoint has an accessibility check similar to Word. If you have learned to create accessible Word documents, you will quickly learn the same thing in PowerPoint.

Further reading

Learn more about accessible document - University West