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 visuals.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen understand what’s important in images and other visuals, such as clip art, SmartArt graphics, and shapes.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information.

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

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

Add alt text to images

Add a 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 descriptive hyperlink text

Give all notebook sections unique names, and remove empty sections.

Screen readers read section tabs, which provide information about what is found in the notebook, making it easier to understand the contents of a notebook and to navigate through it.

Rename section tabs

Delete section tabs

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 sufficient 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.

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.

  • 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.

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.

Use table headers

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns, use the Accessibility Checker.

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 it can vary how this information is read by different screen readers.

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

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

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

Add descriptive hyperlink text

Add a descriptive 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 menu, 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.

    Tip: You can copy and paste the address, or use the Browse the Web or Browse for File buttons in OneNote to locate the destination page or file.

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

Rename section tabs

Descriptive and accurately titled section tabs 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.

    Screenshot of the context menu with the Rename option selected.

Delete section tabs

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

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

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

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 menu 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 menu, click the down arrow next to the Font Color icon, 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 menu, 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 menu, click the Bullets icon.

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

    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 menu, click the Numbering icon.

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

    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 menu, click the Paragraph Alignment icon.

  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.

    Screenshot of the Paragraph Spacing Option in the Home menu.

Use table headers

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

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

  2. In the Table Tools menu, 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

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 visuals.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen understand what’s important in images and other visuals, such as clip art, SmartArt graphics, and shapes.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you need to use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the body text. In alt text, briefly describe the image and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add a 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 descriptive hyperlink text

Give all notebook sections unique names, and remove empty sections.

Screen readers read section tabs, which provide information about what is found in the notebook, making it easier to understand the contents of a notebook and to navigate through it.

Rename section tabs

Delete section tabs

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 adding bold or using a larger font. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text to let people know that the text is a link even if they can’t see the color.

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 are colorblind to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

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

People with dyslexia can perceive to experience movement of the words on a page, or text running together (a line of text compressing into the line below). The text can also merge or distort otherwise.

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.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid large gaps between words. Large gaps 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.

To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

For example, 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. And, 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.

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.

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns, use the Accessibility Checker.

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 it can vary how this information is read by different screen readers.

    Atl text dialog for Mac Sierra.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

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

Add descriptive hyperlink text

Add a descriptive 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 menu, 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 section tabs

Descriptive and accurately titled section tabs 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.

    Section context menu with Rename section highlighted.

Delete section tabs

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

  1. In a notebook, 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.

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 menu 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 menu, click the down arrow next to the Font Color icon, 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 menu, 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 menu, click the Bullets icon.

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

  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 menu, click the Numbering icon.

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

    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 menu, click the Paragraph Alignment icon.

  3. Click the alignment you want to use.

    Paragrah alignment pull down menu in Mac.

See also

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 visuals.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen understand what’s important in images and other visuals, such as clip art, SmartArt graphics, and shapes.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you need to use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the body text. In alt text, briefly describe the image and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add a 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 descriptive hyperlink text

Give all notebook sections unique names, and remove empty sections.

Screen readers read section tabs, which provide information about what is found in the notebook, making it easier to understand the contents of a notebook and to navigate through it.

Rename section tabs

Delete section tabs

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.

Use also other means of conveying the information, such as adding bold. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text to let people know that the text is a link even if they can’t see the color.

Use accessible text format

Avoid excessive use of different text formatting styles.

People with dyslexia can perceive to experience movement of the words on a page, or text running together (a line of text compressing into the line below). The text can also merge or distort otherwise.

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

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

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

Use accessible text format

Use appropriate text spacing

Use the built-in formatting tools.

To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use the built-in formatting tools in OneNote for iOS.

Organize the information in your notes into small logical chunks. Use bulleted lists for items that do not need to be in any specific order. Use ordered lists for items that need to be followed sequentially.

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

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 it can vary how this information is read by different screen readers.

    Alt text dialog in iPhone.

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 descriptive hyperlink text

Add a hyperlink to a descriptive 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.

    Tip: You can also copy and paste the address.

  5. Tap Done.

    Hyperlink dialog in iPhone.

Rename section tabs

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

  1. In a notebook, tap and hold the section tab you want to rename, and in 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 section tabs

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

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

    Remove section button in the menu bar in iPhone.
  2. In the confirmation dialog, tap 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.

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 icon.

    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 bulleted list 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 large gaps between words.

  1. Select the piece of text to modify.

  2. In the menu bar, tap the left alignment button.

    Left align button in the menu bar in iPhone.

See also

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 visuals.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen understand what’s important in images and other visuals, such as clip art, SmartArt graphics, and shapes.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you need to use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the body text. In alt text, briefly describe the image and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add a 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 descriptive hyperlink text

Give all notebook sections unique names, and remove empty sections.

Screen readers read section tabs, which provide information about what is found in the notebook, making it easier to understand the contents of a notebook and to navigate through it.

Rename section tabs

Delete section tabs

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.

Use also other means of conveying the information, such as adding bold. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text to let people know that the text is a link even if they can’t see the color.

Use accessible text format

Avoid excessive use of different text formatting styles.

People with dyslexia can perceive to experience movement of the words on a page, or text running together (a line of text compressing into the line below). The text can also merge or distort otherwise.

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

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

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

Use accessible text format

Use the built-in formatting tools.

To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

Organize the information in your notes into small logical chunks. Use bulleted lists for items that do not need to be in any specific order. Use ordered lists for items that need to be followed sequentially.

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

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 click 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, click Done.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as it can vary how this information is read by different screen readers.

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

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

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

Add descriptive hyperlink text

Add a hyperlink to a descriptive 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 menu, 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. Type the hyperlink URL into the Address field.

    Tip: You can also copy and paste the address.

  5. Click Insert.

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

Rename section tabs

Descriptive and accurately titled section tabs 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 section tabs

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section tabs 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, click Delete Section.

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 menu 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 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 menu, click the Bulleted List icon.

    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 menu, click the Numbering icon, 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 visuals.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen understand what’s important in images and other visuals, such as clip art, SmartArt graphics, and shapes.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you need to use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the body text. In alt text, briefly describe the image and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add a 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 descriptive hyperlink text

Give all notebook sections unique names, and remove empty sections.

Screen readers read section tabs, which provide information about what is found in the notebook, making it easier to understand the contents of a notebook and to navigate through it.

Rename section tabs

Delete section tabs

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 adding bold or using a larger font. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text to let people know that the text is a link even if they can’t see the color.

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 are colorblind to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

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

People with dyslexia can perceive to experience movement of the words on a page, or text running together (a line of text compressing into the line below). The text can also merge or distort otherwise.

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.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid large gaps between words. Large gaps 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.

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.

For example, 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. And, 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.

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.

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns, use the Accessibility Checker.

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.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

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

Add descriptive hyperlink text

Add a descriptive 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 menu, 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 section tabs

Descriptive and accurately titled section tabs 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 section tabs

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section tabs 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.

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 menu 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 menu, click the down arrow next to the Font Color icon, 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 menu, 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 menu, click the Bullets icon.

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

    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 menu, click the Numbering icon.

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

    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 menu, click the Paragraph Alignment icon.

  3. Select the option you want.

    Paragraph alignment menu options in OneNote Online.

See also

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.

Connect with an expert
Contact us
Expand your skills
Explore training

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.

×