Create an Accessible PDF with Microsoft Word
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Create an accessible PDF
The best way to create an accessible PDF is to start with an accessible Word document. An accessible Word document includes:
- Heading structure created with the Styles menu.
- Alternate text for all images.
- Tables used sparingly and with Header Row repeated.
- Fonts for body and headings should be sans serif.
- Color contrast should be sufficient for any user to be able to read.
In addition, consider the necessity of each element you include in the document. For example, are images and callouts aiding the end user? If purely decorative, they may actually hinder the accessibility of the document.
Preserve the accessibility of your Word document when you export to PDF by choosing File -> Save As -> PDF.
NOTE: Do not print to PDF, as this method will not preserve the accessibility of the document.
Word 2010 and Word 2013 (Windows)
When saving to PDF, select Options. Check the box for Document structure tags for accessibility.
Word 2016 (Mac)
When saving to PDF, check the box for Best for electronic distribution and accessibility.
Fix an inaccessible PDF
To modify and remediate a PDF document, you will need to have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is available to all UMD Faculty and Staff at TERPware. For more information, see PDF Accessibility.
Run the accessibility checker
Select Tools -> Accessibility -> Full Check, then read the report and follow the prompts. For items that have Failed, right click on the item and click Fix.
The following areas commonly fail the accessibility checker.
- Tagging - Tags provide structure to the document. To add tags, select View -> Tools -> Accessibility -> Add Tags to Document. To change tags, right-click on the tag and select Properties. Then, choose the correct tag from the drop-down menu.
- Reading Order - The reading order is important for users of screen readers and mobile devices. The reading order of your document will depend on the content. Use View -> Tools -> Accessibility -> Touch Up Reading Order to:
- Hide decorative images by clicking on an image, and then clicking Background
- Add or edit alt text for informative images by right clicking on an image, then selecting Edit alt text.
- Rearrange read order by clicking Show order panel and dragging items to their appropriate location.
- Edit accessibility features within tables by clicking a table, and clicking the Table Editor button.
Additional resources for making accessible PDFs