Make charts more accessible in Excel Online

To make your charts in Excel Online more accessible, provide ways to get the information that don’t rely solely on sight or on visual cues like color.

In this topic

Place the chart in a logical position

  • People who can't see the screen navigate with a keyboard. Typically, they move from left to right, starting at cell A1. Keep this in mind when you choose a location for the chart.

  • Tell people that you added a chart, and give them the cell address where the chart begins, or a range of cells that contain the entire chart. Add this information next to the data that you used to make the chart.

Add alternative text to a chart

It's easy to add alternative text (also known as alt text) to charts and pivot charts in Excel Online. You can also use the same technique for images and photos.

To add alternative text to a chart, take these steps.

  1. Select the image, chart, or pivot chart.

  2. Open the context menu (right-click, or use the Context key, which is between the right-hand Alt key and Ctrl key.)

  3. The menu opens with focus on the alt text item. Just press Enter to open the Alternative Text dialog box.

  4. Focus is in the Title text box, ready to type. Type a title for the alt text that gives the listener a concise explanation of what's important about the image, and then press the Tab key.

  5. Focus changes to the Description text box. Type a description and then press the Tab key.

    Tip: Emphasize what's important. For example, "A hummingbird attracted to red flowers" might offer better information than "A flower box with geraniums."

  6. Press OK. Focus returns to the chart.

Add text descriptions where needed

  • Because charts and graphs can picture complex information, it's a good idea to add a descriptive sentence or two next to the chart. Often, an ideal location is in a cell just above or just below the data table that you used to generate the chart.

  • Use carefully selected data labels in your chart.

  • If possible, add a text description that spells out the most important ideas that the chart conveys. For example, are sales continuing to rise? Did important changes occur at certain dates? Are quantities similar across the data, or are there significant differences?

To learn more about alternative labels and summaries, see Alternative Text.

Check for color-dependent information

People who are color blind might not be able to see colors in your spreadsheet, or might see them in different colors than you intend. For example, they might see reds and greens as shades of gray or brown.

In addition, many people have low vision, and can't distinguish between colors that have too little contrast between them.

Here are some guidelines that can help make your chart more accessible for people who are color blind.

  • Avoid using color alone to convey information. For example, you can communicate success by adding a checkmark to a green color shading. You might chose related symbols, such as a checkmark for success and a large X for failure. Alternately, label the cells that use color carefully.

  • Make sure that text in your spreadsheet has sufficient contrast for people who have low vision. To get helpful tools and learn more about contrast, see (W3C)

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