Learn how to navigate in Word using accessible features

Learn how to navigate in Word using accessible features

Read out loud symbol with the label Screen reader content. This topic is about using a screen reader with Office

This article is for people who use a screen reader program with the Office products and is part of the Office Accessibility content set. For more general help, see Office Support home.

When you use Word in Office 365 on any computer or device, you can take advantage of the accessibility settings are specific to the device, such as Windows, Mac, or Android. This includes screen readers, speech recognition tools for dictation, and High Contrast settings for increased visibility.

For more information about accessibility settings and features that work in your device, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

Word 2016 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 such as Narrator or JAWS, and Windows Speech Recognition.

In this topic

Get to know the Word layout

In Word, the name of your document is centered at the top of the screen. App controls, such as Minimize and Close, are at the upper-right corner. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides at the upper left of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo.

Below this line is a set of ribbon tabs. It includes tabs such as Insert, Design, and Review. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. Selecting a tab brings up a tab-specific ribbon that includes commands organized in groups. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you pick different items to insert into your document, such as hyperlinks or pictures.

Document content appears under the ribbon and makes up the majority of the page. Some commands, such as Review or Find, open panes to the right or left of the document body.

Navigate in Word for Windows

To navigate in Word, 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 navigation options, see Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word 2016 for Windows.

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 with a screen reader, refer to Get started using a screen reader in Word 2016.

Special considerations in Word

Word offers a number of special accessibility features that can help you use it.

Zoom to magnify or shrink what you see

You can use keyboard shortcuts to zoom in to get a close-up view of your document or zoom out to see more of the page at a reduced size.

  1. Press Alt+W, Q. If using a screen reader, you hear “Zoom dialog” or “Zoom window.”

  2. Tab to the Percent spin box, and then type a percentage or use the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow key to select a percentage.

  3. Tab to the OK button and press Enter.

Use Read Mode

Read Mode improves the resolution and display of text, making it easier to read on the screen. You can start using Read Mode by using keyboard shortcuts.

  1. Press Alt+W, F. If using a screen reader, you hear “Reading layout.” (In Narrator, you hear the file name.)

  2. To return to Print Layout, press Alt+W, E. You hear “Print edit.”

Increase contrast by changing the theme

You may find Word easier to use if you adjust the theme to one that provides more contrast.

Tip: This change affects all of your Office 365 applications.

  1. In Backstage view, open Office Account by pressing Alt+F, D. If you're using a screen reader, you hear “Account tab” and the focus moves to the Office Theme box.

  2. To open the Office Theme box, press Y, 1. You hear the name of the currently selected theme.

  3. Select a theme and press Enter. The Dark Gray theme provides the greatest contrast.

Tip: You may also want to choose a higher-contrast theme in Windows or use other accessibility settings. Go to Make your PC easier to use for more information.

Turn off click and type

If you are using adaptive technology that doesn’t work well with the click-and-type feature of Word, you can turn the feature off.

  1. To open , In Backstage view, open the Word Options dialog box by pressing Alt+F, T. If you're using a screen reader, you hear “Word Options, Categories list box” or “Word Options.”

  2. To open the Advanced options, press A and then the Tab key. You hear “Advanced” and the name of the first option.

  3. To move to the Enable click and type check box, press C. Then, press Spacebar to select or clear the check box.

  4. To close the Word Options dialog box, press Enter.

Use Tell Me

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.

Word 2016 for Mac includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with documents. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts and a screen reader to work with Word. For more information about accessibility settings and features that are platform-specific, refer to Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

Notes: 

In this topic

Get to know the Word 2016 for Mac layout

When you have a document open in Word, the name of your document is centered at the top of the screen. App controls, such as Minimize and Close, are at the upper left corner. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides next to them at the upper left of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo. The Search field and the Share button are at the upper right of the screen.

Below this row is a set of ribbon tabs. It includes tabs such as Insert, Design, and Review. Selecting a tab brings up a tab-specific ribbon that includes commands organized in groups. The ribbon sits below the row of tabs. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you pick different items to insert into your document, such as hyperlinks or pictures.

Document content appears under the ribbon and makes up the majority of the page. Some commands, such as Review or Find, open panes to the right or left of the document body.

Navigate using the keyboard

To cycle through the main areas of Word 2016 for Mac, press Command+F6 (forward) or Shift+Command+F6 (backward). From top to bottom, these are the main areas:

  • Toolbar

  • Ribbon tabs

  • Document content

  • Status bar

To browse within the toolbar or ribbon tabs, press Left or Right arrow key. You hear the name of the current button or tab. To select, press Control+Option+Spacebar. To browse the commands on the selected ribbon, press Tab (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward). You hear the name of each command as you land on it, and if you wait a moment, VoiceOver also tells you how you can interact with the current command.

When focus is on the document body, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow to interact with the content:

  • To move one line down or up, press the Down or Up arrow key.

  • To move one word left or right, press the Left or Right arrow key.

  • To move to the first line of the next or previous paragraph, press Control+Option+Down or Up arrow.

To select text, press Shift+an arrow key in the direction of the text you want to select.

Tip: When focus is on the document body, press Control+F to use the Search field.

Navigate using the navigation pane

You can quickly move between whole pages with the help of the navigation pane, which opens to the left of the document body.

  1. Press Command+F6 until you hear the name of the tab you're on, for example, "Home, selected, tab."

  2. Press the Right arrow key until you hear "View, tab" and then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  3. Press Tab until you hear "Navigation pane, unchecked, checkbox" and then press Control+Option+Spacebar to turn the pane on.

  4. To move focus to the navigation pane, press Command+F6 until you hear "Thumbnails pane, selected."

  5. To open the thumbnails pane that lists the document pages, press the Down arrow key once, and then press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow. VoiceOver tells you how many pages there are and which page you're on.

  6. To move between pages, press the Down or Up arrow keys until you find the page you want, and then press Control+Option+Spacebar to navigate to it.

The focus moves to the text of the selected page.

Word for iPad and iPhone are designed to take advantage of the accessibility features built-in to iOS devices, such as VoiceOver, Speak Selection, Zoom, Invert Colors, and Increase Contrast.

To find out how to use these features on your device, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

Contents

Get to know the Word for iPad or iPhone layout

Navigate by using touch in a document

Navigate by using keyboard shortcuts

Special considerations for working with Word for iPad or iPhone

Technical support for people with disabilities

Get to know the Word for iPad or iPhone layout

When you have a document open in Word, the name of your document is centered at the top of the screen. App controls, such as Minimize and Close, are at the upper left corner. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides next to them at the upper left of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo. The Search field and the Share button are at the upper right of the screen.

Below this row is a set of ribbon tabs. It includes tabs such as Insert, Design, and Review. Selecting a tab brings up a tab-specific ribbon that includes commands organized in groups. The ribbon sits below the row of tabs. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you pick different items to insert into your document, such as hyperlinks or pictures.

Document content appears under the ribbon and makes up the majority of the page. Some commands, such as Review or Find, open panes to the right or left of the document body.

Navigate by using touch in a document

VoiceOver rotor: Use the VoiceOver rotor to choose how you want to move through a document when you swipe up or down. For example, if you choose Words, your insertion point moves through the document word by word with each swipe.

Scrolling: Move three fingers up or down to scroll through a document. When you lift your fingers from the screen, VoiceOver identifies the page you are on.

Ribbon: Tap, and then double-tap the Home tab on the ribbon.

  • To move to another tab, swipe right or left with one finger to move through the tabs. Double-tap a tab to bring it in to focus.

  • To choose a button beneath a tab that is in focus, swipe right or left to move through the tab's button options.

  • To hide the ribbon, double-tap the ribbon, and then double-tap again.

Navigate by using keyboard shortcuts

If you use VoiceOver with an external keyboard and you want to use keyboard shortcuts, make sure QuickNav is turned off. On your external keyboard, press the left and right arrow keys at the same time. VoiceOver announces that QuickNav is turned off. Press the arrow keys again to turn QuickNav on.

For a list of keyboard shortcuts, see Use keyboard shortcuts with an external keyboard in Word for iPad.

Special considerations for working with Word for iPad or iPhone

Use VoiceOver in Word

Use VoiceOver to hear verbal tips about what appears onscreen. When your cursor focuses on an item onscreen, VoiceOver announces the item's name or describes it.

Note: If you use VoiceOver with an external keyboard and you want to use keyboard shortcuts, make sure QuickNav is turned off. On your external keyboard, press the left and right arrow keys together. VoiceOver announces that QuickNav is turned off. Press the arrow keys again to turn QuickNav on.

Change document view

Use Page Layout view to increase the amount of text on a page, making it easier to read, edit text, and add comments on your phone's small screen. At the top of the document, swipe left or right to move focus to the Page Layout button, and then double-tap it.

Connect to a cloud storage service

Connect to your OneDrive,OneDrive for Business, or Dropbox accounts. Once connected, you can get to your files stored in these accounts right from your iPhone.

  1. Open Word. Tap, then double-tap Account on the bottom-left of the File Open screen to open the Account screen. The Account screen provides your current login information, followed by a list of your Connected Services, and an option to Add a Service at the bottom of the screen

    Note:  If you have a Word file open and want to return to the File Open screen, use the Save and Close button in the top-left corner of the application.

  2. Tap, then double-tap Add a Service. The Add a Service screen lists available services in this order: OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and Dropbox.

  3. Tap, then double-tap the service you’d like to add, and then follow the login instructions.

  4. Return to the Account menu, and your new service will be listed under Connected Services.

Connect to SharePoint

Use your work or school account to access team sites on SharePoint.

  1. Open Word. Tap, and then double-tap Account at the bottom left of the File Open screen and sign in to the app.

  2. In the Account screen, tap, and then double-tap your team site from the list of your Connected Services.

Word for Android includes accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities like limited dexterity or low vision to work with documents. For more information about accessibility settings and features that are platform-specific, refer to Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • For touch capabilities in Word for Android, go to Word for Android touch guide.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Android screen reader, TalkBack. To learn more about using TalkBack, go to Android accessibility.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with an Android phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an Android tablet.

In this topic

Use TalkBack screen reader, touch gestures, and external keyboard shortcuts

Word for Android works with the built-in Android screen reader, TalkBack. When TalkBack is on, you hear a spoken description of whatever you select or activate on your device. This includes commands, locations, lists, and buttons, in addition to the contents of Word screens, menus, and pop-up windows.

If you’re using an external keyboard, for instructions, refer to Use TalkBack keyboard shortcuts.

Use global and local context menus

As you navigate using TalkBack, two context menus are available to help you find settings and controls. The global context menu contains commands that work anywhere. The local context menu commands depend on the item in focus.

To learn more about the global and local context menu, refer to Use global and local context menus.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert and change text in Word

Use a screen reader to check spelling and grammar in Word

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Word documents accessible

The Word Mobile app for Windows 10 includes accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities to create and edit documents. For example, people who are blind or who have low vision can use screen readers to have information about the user interface (UI) read aloud to them. People who have limited mobility can use keyboard shortcuts or speech recognition tools instead of a mouse. This topic covers accessibility features available in the Word Mobile app for many types of disabilities.

Notes: 

  • The Word Mobile for Windows 10 is a mobile application, so the keyboard shortcuts and navigation may differ from those in the Word desktop app.

  • For information on the touch capabilities in Word Mobile, refer to Word Mobile for Windows 10 touch guide.

In this article

Get to know the Word Mobile in Windows 10 for Office 365 layout

Navigate by using keyboard shortcuts

Use Tell Me

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Get to know the Word Mobile in Windows 10 for Office 365 layout

Using the Word Mobile for Windows 10 app, you can create, update, and review documents, just as you can in the Word desktop app (although the desktop app has more features). For more information on the features included with Word Mobile or to download the app, go to Word Mobile in the Microsoft Store or refer to Word Mobile for Windows 10 Help.

When you start Word Mobile, a navigation pane is displayed in the left side of the app window and a list of templates is displayed in the right side of the window. After you select a template or open an existing file from the navigation pane, you can use the main areas of the app.

On the top bar of the app, you'll find these tabs: and buttons:

  • Ribbon tabs (in order): File, Home, Insert, Draw, Layout, Review, and View

  • Tell me button

  • Read button

  • Undo and Redo buttons

  • Share button

Below the top bar is the main body of the document.

Navigate by using keyboard shortcuts

The following are some frequently used keyboard shortcuts for Word Mobile.

  • To move forward through UI elements, press the Tab key. To move back, press Shift+Tab. For some elements, you can also use the arrow keys.

  • To select the currently displayed tab on the ribbon, press Alt. Immediately after you press Alt, to move directly to the File menu, press Shift+Tab. To move between tabs on the ribbon, press the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys or press Ctrl+Tab. To move to the options for each tab, press the Down Arrow key and, to move back to the tab, press the Up Arrow key. To select an option, press Enter or Spacebar.

  • To display the shortcut menu for an object, press Shift+F10.

For information on keyboard shortcuts for Word Mobile, go to Use keyboard shortcuts with an external keyboard in Word Mobile for Windows 10. For information about using a screen reader with Word Mobile, refer to Get started using a screen reader in Word Mobile for Windows 10.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

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 in Word Online, a screen reader, or a speech recognition tool to work with Word Online.

When you use Word Online in Office 365, you use it in the browser of your computer or device. You can take advantage of the accessibility settings are specific to your device, such as Windows, Mac, or Android. For example, you might want to use a screen reader, such as Narrator for a Windows device or VoiceOver for a Mac; Windows Speech Recognition or the Speak tool for dictation; and High Contrast settings for increased visibility. For more information about accessibility settings and features that work in your device, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

In this topic

Get to know the WordOnline layout

Navigate in Word Online by using keyboard shortcuts

Special considerations for Word Online

Use Tell Me

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Get to know the Word Online layout

Word Online runs in your web browser. It offers two views: Reading view and Editing view. Different commands are available depending on the view you are using.

In addition, in Reading view, Word Online offers Accessible Mode, which can make reading much easier for people who use a screen reader. In Accessibility Mode, Word Online presents a Portable Document Format (PDF) version of the file with tagging in your browser. Your screen reader reads the text and its formatting from the PDF version in the browser.

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

You can also switch to Accessibility Mode by using the keyboard.

Explore Reading view

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

    In Reading view, the name Word Online is listed in the title bar at the top of the window. If you're using a screen reader, you'll hear it read aloud. 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.

Switch to Accessibility Mode

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

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

To switch from Reading to Editing view

  1. To switch from Reading view to Editing view, press F6 to reach the button on the toolbar ( you hear, “Tab, Toolbar, List of Microsoft Services button.” )

  2. Tab to the Edit document button and press Enter, and then select Edit in Word Online.

Editing view

  • In Editing view, you can enter text, format it, and make changes to your document.

    In Editing view, the title bar at the top of the window includes the app launcher on the left. As you go from left to right on the title bar, you'll find the application name (Word Online), the name of your document, 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, which opens your document in the desktop version of 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. If you're using a screen reader, focus changes in a predictable way.

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.

Navigate in Word Online by using 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.

Special considerations for Word Online

Zoom by using keyboard shortcuts

  • 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 to select the percentage you want, then press Enter.

Zoom from Editing view in Internet Explorer

  1. Press Alt+Q to go to the Tell Me box. You hear “Tell me what you want to do,”

  2. Type zoom and press Enter to open the Zoom dialog box opens. The current zoom percentage radio button (for example, 100%) and the OK button are button selected.

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

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

  5. Tab to the OK button and press Enter.

Use the Zoom level button on the status bar

  1. To move the focus to the status bar, press Ctrl+F6. You hear "Toolbar, Page 1 of x."

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

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

  4. When you hear “OK button,” press the Tab key until you hear “Zoom to, Full page” or “Zoom to, Page width.”

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

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

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

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.

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