Office
Sign in
Make your OneNote notebooks accessible

Make your OneNote notebooks accessible

This topic gives you step-by-step instructions to make your OneNote notebooks accessible to people with disabilities.

OneNote notebook with a Contoso Project page that shows a to-do list and a monthly expence overview bar chart.

People who are blind or have low vision can understand your notes more easily if you create your OneNote notebooks with accessibility in mind.

The following table includes best practices for creating OneNote 2016 notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with a short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text "Click here," include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group, or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Rename section groups

Delete section groups

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

To avoid this, use also other means of conveying the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

To find headings that are not in a logical order, use the Accessibility Checker.

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Add a table header

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Make audio or video accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read the description of the image.

Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways. Keep the texts short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Alt Text….

  2. Type a title and a description for the image.

    Depending on your OneNote version, the Description field may already contain a machine-generated alt text. If you want to use this text, close the Alternative Text dialog.

    Screenshot of the alternative text dialog in OneNote with example texts in the Title and Description fields.

  3. When ready, select OK.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen readers can read the description of the file.

  1. Right-click the embedded file, and select Alt Text….

  2. Type a title and a description for the embedded file.

    Add alt text to a file printout dialog

    Depending on your OneNote version, the Description field may already contain a machine-generated alt text. If you want to use this text, close the Alternative Text dialog.

  3. When ready, select OK.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add a meaningful hyperlink to your text to let the users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the piece of text to which you want to add the hyperlink, and then right-click.

  2. Select Link....

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Add the hyperlink URL to the Address field.

    You can copy and paste the address, use the Browse the Web or Browse for File buttons, or pick a location in OneNote to find the destination page, file, or OneNote item.

    Screenshot of the link dialog in OneNote. Contains two fields to fill in: Text to display and Address.
  5. Click OK.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the correct section.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section name you want to edit, and select Rename.

  2. Type the new name, and then press Enter.

    Screenshot of the context menu with the Rename option selected.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section you want to remove, and select Delete.

    Screenshot of the context menu for removing a section
  2. In the confirmation dialog, click Yes.

Rename section groups

Descriptive and accurately titled section groups help users find the correct section group.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section group name you want to edit, and select Rename.

    Rename a section group in OneNote for Windows dialog
  2. Type the new name, and then press Enter.

Delete section groups

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section groups that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section group you want to remove, and select Delete.

    Delete section group in OneNote for Windows dialog
  2. In the confirmation dialog, select Yes.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to name or rename, and select Rename.

    Rename a page in OneNote for Windows dialog
  2. Type a name for the page.

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to remove, and select Delete.

    Delete page in OneNote for Windows dialog

Use accessible text format

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the piece of text you want to format.

  2. In the Home tab you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif type of font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in the high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. In the Home tab, click the down arrow next to the Font Color button, and click Automatic.

    Screenshot of the font color option in the Home menu.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for the screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a piece of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. In the Home tab, select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Screenshot of selecting a heading style from the Home menu.

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break the text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Bullets button.

  3. To change the bullet style, click the down arrow next to the Bullets button.

    Screenshot of the bullet list item selection in the Home menu.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a full stop or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

When feasible, use numbered lists as they are easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Numbering button.

  3. To change the numbering style, click the down arrow next to the Numbering button.

    Screenshot of the numbered list option in the Home menu.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

Use appropriate text spacing

Increase or decrease the white space between sentences and paragraphs to improve readability.

  1. Select the piece of text to modify.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Paragraph Alignment button.

  3. Click Paragraph Spacing Options…, and type the spacing you want to use.

    Note: The paragraph spacing values in OneNote follow a different logic than the values in, for example, Word. In OneNote, you need to enter the total number (in points) for both the current font size and its intended line spacing. For example, to double-space Calibri font size 11, enter 27 into the Line spacing at least field.

  4. Screenshot of the Paragraph Spacing Option in the Home menu.

Add a table header

Add headers to your table to help screen readers keep track of the columns and rows.

All tables created in OneNote automatically have a header row. It is possible to remove/add the header row property using the OneNote Windows Desktop app. If you are using a notebook that has the Header Row property disabled, you can use the Windows Desktop app to resolve this issue.

  1. In your table, place the cursor somewhere on the first row.

  2. In the Table Tools tab, click Insert Above.

  3. Right-click the inserted row in the table, and select Table. Check that Header Row is selected.

  4. Go back to your table and type the column headings.

See also

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

The following table includes best practices for creating OneNote for Mac notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text "Click here," include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Rename section groups

Delete section groups

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

To avoid this, use also other means of conveying the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

To find headings that are not in a logical order, use the Accessibility Checker.

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote for Mac are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Make audio or video accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read the description of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Alt Text….

  2. Type a title and a description in the fields. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When ready, click OK.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

    Atl text dialog for Mac Sierra.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen readers can read the description of the file.

  1. Right-click the file in your notebook, and select Alt Text….

  2. Type a title and description for the file.

    Add alt text to embedded files in OneNote for Mac
  3. Once you're done, select OK.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add a meaningful hyperlink to your text to let the users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the piece of text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. In the Insert tab, click Link on the ribbon.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Add the hyperlink URL to the Address field. You can copy and paste the address from the original location.

    Hyperlink dialog in Mac.

  5. Click OK.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the correct section.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section tab you want to edit, and select Rename.

  2. Type the new name.

    Section context menu with Rename section highlighted.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section tab you want to remove, and select Delete Section.

    Section context menu in Mac with Delete Section highlighted.

  2. In the confirmation dialog, click Yes.

Rename section groups

Descriptive and accurately titled section groups help users find the correct section group.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to rename.

  2. Select Rename.

    Rename section group in OneNote for Mac
  3. Type the new name for the section group, and then press Enter.

Delete section groups

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section groups that contain no information.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete.

    Delete section group in OneNote for Mac
  3. In the confirmation dialog, select, Yes.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Select Rename.

    Rename page in OneNote for Mac
  3. Type a name for the page.

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to remove.

    Delete page in OneNote for Mac
  2. Select Delete.

Use accessible text format

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the piece of text you want to format.

  2. In the Home tab you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif type of font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in the high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. In the Home tab, click the down arrow next to the Font Color button, and click Automatic.

    Font color pull down menu in OneNote for Mac.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for the screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a piece of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. In the Home tab, select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Heading style menu in OneNote for Mac,

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break the text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Bullets button.

  3. To change the bullet style, click the down arrow next to the Bullets button.

  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Bulleted list pull down menu in Mac.

    Tip: Use a full stop or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

When feasible, use numbered lists as they are easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Numbering button.

  3. To change the numbering style, click the down arrow next to the Numbering button.

    Numbered  list pull down menu in Mac.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

Use appropriate text spacing

Increase or decrease the white space between sentences and paragraphs to improve readability.

  1. Select the piece of text to modify.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Paragraph Alignment button.

  3. Click the alignment you want to use.

    Paragrah alignment pull down menu in Mac.

See also

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

Note: This topic assumes that you are using an iPhone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an iPad.

The following table includes best practices in OneNote for iOS for creating notebooks that are accessible to all people.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text “Click here,” include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Rename section groups

Delete section groups

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

To avoid this, use also other means of conveying the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

You can change the text colors in the desktop, Windows 10 app, and online versions of OneNote. The modified colors will be visible when the notebook is opened in the iOS version. For instructions on how to use accessible text colors in OneNote for Windows, Mac, Windows 10 app, or Online, see the respective sections in this article.

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text spacing

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote for iOS are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables inspect them visually in OneNote for iOS or use the Accessibility Checker in the desktop, Windows 10 app, or online versions of OneNote.

Make audio or video accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read a description of the image.

  1. Tap and hold the image in your notebook, and in the context menu, swipe left, and tap Alt Text.

  2. Type a title and description in the fields. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When ready, tap Done.

    Tip: Fill in both the TITLE and DESCRIPTION fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

    Alt text dialog in iPhone.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen readers can read the description of the file.

  1. Tap and hold the file on page in your notebook.

  2. In the context menu, swipe left, and tap Alt Text.

  3. Type a title and description for the file.

    Add alt text to an embedded file in OneNote for iOS
  4. Once you're done, tap Done.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote for iOS notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add a hyperlink to a meaningful piece of text to let the users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the piece of text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the menu bar, swipe left and tap the Insert Link button.

    Link button in the menu bar in iPhone.
  3. The text you selected is shown in the DISPLAY field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Type the hyperlink URL into the ADDRESS field.

    Note: You can also copy and paste the address.

  5. Tap Done.

    Hyperlink dialog in iPhone.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the correct section.

  1. In a notebook, tap and hold the section tab you want to rename, and on the menu bar, tap the Rename button.

    Rename section button in the menu bar in iPhone.

  2. Type the new name and tap Done.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, tap and hold the section tab you want to remove, and on the menu bar, tap the Remove button.

    Remove section button in the menu bar in iPhone.

  2. In the confirmation dialog, tap Delete.

Rename section groups

Descriptive and accurately titled section groups help users find the correct section group.

  1. In the SECTIONS list, tap and hold the section group you want to rename.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Rename button Rename section or section group button in OneNote for iOS .

    Rename a section group in OneNote for iOS
  3. Type the new name for the section group, and then tap Done.

Delete section groups

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section groups that contain no information.

  1. In the SECTIONS list, tap and hold the section group you want to remove.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Remove button Delete page, section, or section group button in OneNote for iOS .

    Delete section group in OneNote for iOS
  3. In the confirmation dialog, select Delete.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In the PAGES list, tap the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the name on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote for iOS

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the PAGES list, tap and hold the page you want to remove.

  2. In the context menu, tap the Remove button Delete page, section, or section group button in OneNote for iOS .

    Delete page in OneNote for iOS

Use accessible text format

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

Apply text formatting

  1. Select the piece of text you want to format.

  2. On the menu bar you can select, for example, bold or italics font, or underline for emphasis. Tap the option you'd like to select.

    Bold text button on the menu bar in iPhone.

Change the font type and size

  1. In the Notebooks view, tap the Settings button.

    Settings button in Notebooks in iPhone.
  2. In Settings, tap Edit & View.

  3. Select a larger font size and a sans-serif type of font.

    Change font type and size options in Settings in iPhone.

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break continuous text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Bullets button.

    Bulleted list button on the menu bar in iPhone.

  3. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a full stop or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Numbering button.

    Ordered list button on the menu bar in iPhone.

  3. If needed, type the list items.

Use appropriate text spacing

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the piece of text to modify.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Decrease indent button.

    Left align button in the menu bar in iPhone.

See also

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

Note: This topic assumes that you are using an Android phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an Android tablet.

The following table includes best practices in OneNote for Android for creating notebooks that are accessible to all people.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

Add alt text to images

You can add alt texts to embedded files in the desktop, Windows 10 app, and online versions of OneNote. For instructions on how to add alt text to embedded files in OneNote for Windows, Mac, Windows 10 app, or Online, see the respective sections in this article.

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text “Click here,” include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give sections groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

You can rename and delete section groups in the OneNote desktop and Windows 10 app versions. For instructions on how to rename or delete section groups in OneNote for Windows, Mac, or Windows !0 app, see the respective sections in this article.

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

To avoid this, use also other means of conveying the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

You can change the text colors in the desktop, Windows 10 app, and online versions of OneNote. The modified colors will be visible when the notebook is opened in the Android version. For instructions on how to use accessible text colors in OneNote for Windows, Mac, Windows 10 app, or Online, see the respective sections in this article.

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text spacing

You can change the font type and size in the desktop, Windows 10 app, and online versions of OneNote. For instructions on how to change the font type and size in OneNote for Windows, Mac, Windows 10 app, or Online, see the respective sections in this article.

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote for Android are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables inspect them visually in OneNote for Android or use the Accessibility Checker in the desktop, Windows 10 app, or online versions of OneNote.

Make audio or video accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read a description of the image.

  1. Tap and hold the image in your notebook.

  2. In the context menu, tap the More options button More options button in context menu in OneNote for Android , and then select ALT TEXT.

  3. Type a title and description for the image. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When ready, tap DONE.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

    Add alt text to images in OneNote for Android

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote for Android notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add a hyperlink to a meaningful piece of text to let the users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the piece of text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the menu bar, swipe left, and then tap the Insert hyperlink button Add hyperlink button in OneNote for Android .

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Type the hyperlink URL into the Address field.

    Note: You can also copy and paste the address.

  5. Tap DONE.

    Add hyperlink dialog in OneNote for Android

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the correct section.

  1. In the SECTIONS list, tap and hold the section you want to rename.

  2. In the context menu, tap Rename section.

    Rename section in OneNote for Android
  3. Type the new name and tap RENAME.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In the SECTIONS list, tap and hold the section you want to remove.

  2. In the context menu, tap Delete section.

    Delete section in OneNote for Android
  3. In the confirmation dialog, tap DELETE.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct pages.

  1. In the page list, tap the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the new name for the page on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote for Android

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, tap and hold the page you want to remove.

  2. In the context menu, select Delete page.

    Delete page in a long context menu in OneNote for Android
  3. In the confirmation dialog, select DELETE.

Use accessible text format

To improve your text formatting, you can, for example, use bold font, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. To apply the text formatting, select the piece of text you want to format.

  2. On the menu bar you can select, for example, bold font or underline for emphasis. Tap the option you want.

    Text formatting buttons on toolbar in OneNote for Android

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break continuous text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Bullets button Bulleted list button in OneNote for Android .

  3. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a full stop or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. On the menu bar, tap the Numbering button Add numbered list button in OneNote for Android .

  3. If needed, type the list items.

Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the piece of text to modify.

  2. On the menu bar, tap Decrease indent button Align Left button in OneNote for Android .

See also

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

The following table includes best practices in OneNote for Windows 10 for creating notebooks that are accessible to all people.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text “Click here,” include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give sections groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Rename section groups

Delete section groups

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

To avoid this, use also other means of conveying the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text alignment

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

To find headings that are not in a logical order, use the Accessibility Checker.

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote for Windows 10 are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Make audio or video accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read a description of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Picture > Alt Text.

  2. Type a title and a description in the fields. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When ready, select Done.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

    Alt text dialog for adding alt text in OneNote for Windows 10.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen readers can read the description of the file.

  1. Right-click the file on the page.

  2. Select File > Alt Text.

  3. Type a title and a description for the file.

    Add alt text to embedded files in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  4. Select Done.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add a hyperlink to a meaningful piece of text to let the users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the piece of text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the Insert tab, select Link.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Type the hyperlink URL into the Address field.

    Tip: You can also copy and paste the address.

  5. Select Insert.

    Screenshot of the dialog for adding a hypertext link in OneNote for Windows 10.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the correct section.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to edit, and select Rename Section.

    Screenshot of the context menu for renaming a section tab in OneNote for Windows 10.

  2. Type the new name and press Enter.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to remove, and select Delete Section.

    Screenshot of the context menu for deleting a section tab in OneNote for Windows 10.

  2. In the confirmation dialog, select Delete Section.

Rename section groups

Descriptive and accurately titled section groups help users find the correct section group.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to rename and select Rename Section Group.

    Rename section gourps in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  2. Type the new name, and then press Enter.

Delete section groups

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section groups that contain no information.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to remove, and select Delete Section Group.

    Delete section groups in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  2. In the confirmation dialog, select Delete.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Select Rename Page.

    Rename pages in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  3. Type a name for the page.

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete Page.

    Remove page in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Use accessible text format

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the piece of text you want to format.

  2. On the Home tab, you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif type of font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

    Text formatting buttons on the Home menu ribbon in OneNote for Windows 10.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in the high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. On the Home tab, click the down arrow next to the Font Color button Font button in OneNote for Windows 10 app .

  3. Select Automatic.

    Text color menu in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the piece of text you want to modify.

  2. On the Home tab, click the Paragraph Formatting button Format paragraph button in OneNotef for Windows 10 app .

  3. Select Align Left Align left button in OneNote for Windows 10 app .

    Left align paragraphs in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for the screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a piece of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Styles button Format paragraph button in OneNotef for Windows 10 app .

    Styles menu in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  3. Select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Headings list in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break continuous text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, click the Bulleted List button.

    Bullet list button selected on the Home menu ribbon in OneNote for Windows 10.

  3. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a full stop or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, click the Numbering button, and select a style.

    Numbered list buttons on the Home menu ribbon in OneNote for Windows 10.

  3. If needed, type the list items.

See also

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

The following table includes best practices for creating OneNote Online notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text "Click here," include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

You can rename or delete section groups in the OneNote desktop or Windows 10 app version. For the instructions on how to rename or delete section groups in Windows desktop or Windows 10 app, see respective sections in this topic.

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

To avoid this, use also other means of conveying the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote Online.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

To find headings that are not in a logical order, use the Accessibility Checker.

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote Online are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Make audio or video accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read the description of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Edit Alt Text….

  2. Type a description in the field. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When ready, click OK.

    Alternative text dialog for OneNote Online.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen readers can read the description of the file.

  1. Right-click the file in your notebook, and select Edit Alt Text….

  2. Type a description for the file.

    Add alt text to embedded files in OneNote Online
  3. Once you're ready, select OK.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote Online notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add a meaningful hyperlink to your text to let the users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the piece of text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. In the Insert tab, click Link on the ribbon.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Display Text field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Add the hyperlink URL to the Address field.

    Hyperlink dialog for OneNote Online.

  5. Click Insert.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the correct section.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to edit, and select Rename....

  2. Type the new name.

    Rename section option in OneNote Online.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to remove, and select Delete....

    Delete Section menu option in OneNote Online.

  2. In the confirmation dialog, click Yes.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In a notebook, select the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the name on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote Online

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the page tab you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete.

    Delete page in OneNote Online

Use accessible text format

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the piece of text you want to format.

  2. In the Home tab you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif type of font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in the high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. In the Home tab, click the down arrow next to the Font Color button, and click Automatic.

    Font color menu options in OneNote Online.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for the screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a piece of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. In the Home tab, select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Heading styles options in OneNote Online.

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break the text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Bullets button.

  3. To change the bullet style, click the down arrow next to the Bullets button.

    Bulleted list menu on OneNote Online.

  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a full stop or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

When feasible, use numbered lists as they are easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the piece of text to be included in the list.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Numbering button.

  3. To change the numbering style, click the down arrow next to the Numbering button.

    Numbered list menu options in OneNote Online.

  4. If needed, type the list items.

Use appropriate text spacing

Increase or decrease the white space between sentences and paragraphs to improve readability.

  1. Select the piece of text to modify.

  2. In the Home tab, click the Paragraph Alignment button.

  3. Select the option you want.

    Paragraph alignment menu options in OneNote Online.

See also

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.

×