Create accessible PDFs

Adding accessibility tags to PDF files makes it easier for screen readers and other assistive technologies to read and navigate a document, with Tables of Contents, hyperlinks, bookmarks, alt text, and so on. Accessibility tags also make it possible to read the information on different devices, such as large type displays, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and mobile phones. In Word for Windows, Mac, and in Word Online, you can add tags automatically when you save a file as PDF format.

Prepare your source file. Tagging helps make your PDF accessible, but it's very important to check your source file before you save it as a PDF.

Follow these guidelines to help catch and fix accessibility issues, such as missing alt text, before they cause a problem to someone with a disability:

If you’re working in another app, such as Publisher or Visio, many of the suggestions in these articles also apply. For example, it’s always critical to add alternative text for tables and images and to use heading and paragraph styles for text.

Save an accessible PDF in Office

The kinds of files that you can save as PDF depend on the platform. For example, from a Windows computer, you can save a Word document, an Excel workbook, PowerPoint presentation, Publisher publication, or a Visio drawing. To see the file options for other platforms, choose the tab for that platform.

On a Windows computer, you can save your file as a tagged PDF by following these steps.

Office 2016

  1. Click File > Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.

  2. In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save as type list.

  3. Click Options, make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.

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Office 2013

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Save As.

  2. Under Choose a Location, choose where you want the file to be saved.

  3. Under Choose a Folder, choose a folder that you have already used or click Browse for Additional Folders to choose a different folder.

  4. In the Save As dialog box, click the arrow in the Save as type list, and then click PDF.

  5. Click Options.

  6. Make sure that the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.

  7. Click Save.

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Office 2010

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Save As.

  2. In the Save As dialog box, click the arrow in the Save as type list, and then click PDF.

  3. Click Options.

  4. Make sure that the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.

  5. Click Save.

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After you create a Word document on a Mac, you can save your file as a tagged PDF by following these steps.

Save an accessible PDF with Mac for Office
  1. Select File > Save As (or press Command+Shift+S), type the file name in the Save As text box, and then choose where you want the file to be saved.

  2. In the Save As dialog, go to the File Format drop down box. Use the Down Arrow to browse through file types, and select PDF.

  3. Select the radio button "Best for electronic distribution and accessibility (uses Microsoft online service)." This ensures the PDF is tagged.

  4. Select Save.

    Note: At Microsoft, your security and privacy are very important to us. To convert a Word document to PDF, we send the document over to a secure Microsoft service over the internet for conversion. The converted file is then sent back to your device immediately. The Microsoft online service doesn't store any of your file content on our servers. You can save the converted file in your preferred location. For more information, see Why does the Microsoft online service need to convert some Office files?

Word Online automatically saves all your work to the cloud, which is why you won't find a Save button. But, you can also download a document as a PDF.

  1. To move the focus to the ribbon, press Ctrl+F6 until you hear a tab name.

  2. Press Shift+Tab until you hear “File button,” and then press Enter.

  3. Press the Down arrow key until you hear “Save As,” and then press Enter.

  4. In the Save As pane, press the Down arrow key until you hear “Download as PDF,” and then press Enter. The Microsoft Word Online dialog box opens with a link to your PDF.

  5. Press the Tab key until you hear “Click here to view the PDF of your document,” and then press Enter. An Internet Explorer notification bar opens, and you hear, “Do you want to save document?”

  6. To move the focus to the notification bar, press Alt+N.

  7. Press the Tab key to move to the Save button and do one of the following:

    • To save in the default location, press Enter.

    • To save in a different location, press the Down arrow key, move to Save As, and then press Enter. In the Save As dialog box, type a file name, choose the folder you want, and then press the Tab key to move to the Save button and press Enter.

  8. To return the focus to the document in Word Online, in the notification bar, press the Tab key to move to the Close button and press Enter. If focus moves to a blank tab in your browser, close it by pressing Ctrl+W.

  9. To close the Microsoft Word Online dialog box, press the Tab key to move to the Close button and press Spacebar.

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