Accessibility features in Word Online

Word Online includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts, a screen reader, or a speech recognition tool to work with Word Online.

Notes: 

  • Word Online is a web-based application, so the keyboard shortcuts and navigation may be different from those in Word 2016. Learn more about Keyboard shortcuts in Word Online.

  • When you use Word Online, we recommend that you use Microsoft Edge as your browser.

In this topic

Explore the Word Online user interface

Use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts

Change page size and view

Explore accessibility features of browsers

Switch to Accessibility Mode in Reading view

Use Tell Me

Create accessible documents

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Explore the Word Online user interface

The Word Online user interface exists within your web browser. Word Online operates in two views: Reading view and Editing view. The top of the Word Online window looks slightly different and different commands are available depending on the view you are using.

  • In Reading view, you can view, share, print, and comment on the document. By default, Word Online opens in Reading view.

    In Reading view, at the top of the Word Online window, “Word Online” is listed in the title bar. At the left edge of the title bar is the app launcher, the control that contains tiles that link to Microsoft services and Office Online applications, including Mail, Calendar, OneDrive, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

    Below the title bar is a toolbar that contains the name of your document in the center and a set of commands on the right: Edit Document, Print, Share, Comments, and more.

  • In Editing view, you can make changes to your document. To switch from Reading view to Editing view, press F6. The focus moves to the toolbar and you hear “Tab, Toolbar, List of Microsoft Services button.” Tab to the Edit document button and press Enter, and then select Edit in Word Online. In Editing view, at the top of the Word Online window, the title bar includes the app launcher on the left, the application name (“Word Online”), the name of your document in the center, and a Share button on the right.

    Below the title bar is a toolbar organized into tabs: File, Home, Insert, Page Layout, Review, View, and Open in Word. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, if you select the Insert tab, a ribbon appears. From that ribbon, you can pick different items, such as hyperlinks or pictures, to insert into your document.

In both Reading view and Editing view, document content appears under the ribbon and takes up the majority of the page. Some commands, such as Go To, Show Comments, or Find, open panes to the right or left of the document body. Others, like Zoom, open a pane in the center of the document body. And some, like Share, open a new window.

At the bottom of the Word Online window is the status bar, which indicates the page number and zoom level and, in Editing view, the number of words in the document, as well as the language.

For general information about navigating the ribbon, panes, or a document, refer to Accessibility in Office Online Accessibility in Office Online.

Use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts

  • To navigate in Word Online and to cycle through screen elements, press the Tab key (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward).

  • To select an item, press Enter.

  • To browse within menus or lists, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow key, and then, to make a selection, press Enter.

  • To exit a menu or mode, press Esc.

For more details, read Keyboard shortcuts in Word Online.

Word Online includes accessible names that can be read by screen readers as you work in the application. You can use Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows, or a third-party screen reader, such as JAWS. For information on using Word Online with a screen reader, refer to Get started using a screen reader in Word Online.

Important: We recommend the version of Narrator that's included with the Anniversary Update (RS1) of Windows 10. For more information, see Get started with Narrator.

Change page size and view

To get a close-up view of your document, you can zoom in, or, to see more of the page at a reduced size, you can zoom out. You can also use Read Mode in Word. Read Mode improves the resolution and display of text, which makes it easier to read.

Zoom by using the keyboard

In Reading view

Notes: These keystrokes in Reading view are for Internet Explorer. Other browsers may work differently.

  • To zoom in, press Ctrl+Plus Sign (+) or Alt+V, Z, and then I.

  • To zoom out, press Ctrl+Minus Sign (-) or Alt+V, Z, and then O.

  • To select a zoom percentage, press Alt+V, Z. If you are using a screen reader, you hear “Zoom in, Control Plus, I” or “Zoom in, Context menu.” On the Zoom menu, use the Down Arrow key to select the percentage you want and press Enter.

In Editing view

  1. Press Alt+Q.

  2. When you hear “Tell me what you want to do,” type zoom and press Enter. The Zoom dialog box opens with the current zoom percentage radio button (for example, 100%) and the OK button selected.

  3. In the Zoom dialog box, to move to the Percentage options radio buttons, press Shift+Tab.

  4. To select the percentage you want, use the Down Arrow key.

  5. Tab to the OK button and press Enter.

In Reading and Editing views

Use the Zoom level button on the status bar at the bottom of the page.

  1. To move the focus to the status bar, press Ctrl+F6. You hear "Toolbar, Page 1 of x." (In Narrator, you hear "Page 1 of x.”)

  2. Tab until you hear the current zoom percentage and “Button, Zoom level,” and then press Enter.

  3. When you hear “OK button,” press the Tab key until you hear “Zoom to, Full page” or “Zoom to, Page width.” (In Narrator, you hear “Dialog, Zoom to, Full page.”)

  4. To select a zoom percentage, use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys.

  5. When you hear the percentage you want, tab to the OK button and press Enter.

Explore accessibility features of browsers

For information about the accessibility features of your browser, go to your browser’s website.

Switch to Accessibility Mode in Reading view

If you are using Narrator in Microsoft Edge, Word Online automatically switches to Accessibility Mode each time you open Reading view.

If not, you can switch to Accessibility Mode by using the keyboard. Then, Word Online creates a Portable Document Format (PDF) version of the file and presents it in your web browser view. Your screen reader reads the text and its formatting from this version in the browser.

Note: The following procedure shows steps for Microsoft Edge. Other browsers, such as Internet Explorer, work differently.

Switch to Accessibility Mode by using the keyboard in Microsoft Edge
  1. In Reading view, tab to the Accessibility Mode button and then press Enter. You'll hear, "Accessible reading mode."

  2. Word Online restarts and then creates a PDF version of your document with accessibility tagging that work better with screen readers. When Word Online and the document have restarted, focus is on your document in accessible PDF view.

  3. Your screen reader can now read the document in its more accessible PDF view.

  4. To switch out of Accessibility Mode, go to the Accessibility Mode button and then press Enter.

Switch to Accessibility Mode by using the keyboard in Internet Explorer
  1. In Reading view, tab to the More button and then press Enter.

  2. On the More menu, move to the Accessibility Mode command and then press Enter. Word Online generates a PDF of the document with accessibility tagging for better interaction with your screen reader.

  3. To go to the PDF, which opens in the next tab in your browser, press Enter. The PDF opens in your default PDF viewer.

  4. To select the entire document, press Ctrl+A. Your screen reader now reads the document in its more accessible PDF view. To have your screen reader indicate text formatting such as background color, font color, size, and style, press Caps Lock+0 (zero).

    Tip: Screen reader audio may vary depending on the PDF viewer you’re using. For example, you may have to select the content of the PDF line by line to hear a screen reader read it.

  5. To return to your document in Word Online, move to the appropriate tab in your browser and then press Enter.

Use Tell Me

In Edit view, when you don’t know the keyboard shortcut or when you want to know about more options, use the Tell me what you want to do box.

  1. Optional. Select the text, cell, or other Office object you want to work with.

  2. Press Alt+Q. You hear “Tell me what you want to do.”

  3. Type a keyword or phrase, and then, to browse the search results, press the Down Arrow key. For example, for options related to fonts, such as italics and font size, type font. Some results may be submenus with more choices.

  4. To choose a result, press Enter.

Create accessible documents

For tips about creating accessible documents in Word Online, go to: Checklist: Create accessible Word documents.

To learn how to save Word Online documents in Braille-usable format, see Using the Save as Daisy add-in for Word

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or have 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.

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