Make your Word documents accessible

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

Event flier announcing the research team offsite on June 9. The image includes a photo and the conference venue’s address.

People who are blind or have low vision can understand your documents more easily if you create them with accessibility in mind. Visual components such as this image need meaningful alternate text.

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Windows: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word documents that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

How to find it

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals and tables.

Visual content includes pictures, clip art, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

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

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to charts

Add alt text to tables

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

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

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use built-in headings and styles.

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

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

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 documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

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

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

Add alt text to visuals and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals and tables in your Word documents.

Note: We recommend only putting text in the description field and leaving the title blank. This will provide the best experience with most major screen readers including Narrator. For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, clip art, and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image.

  2. Select Format Picture > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Picture pane describing the selected image

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a SmartArt graphic.

  2. Select Format Object > Shape Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected SmartArt graphic

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes, including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Right-click a shape, and then select Format Shape.

  2. In the right pane, select Layout & Properties, and then select Alt Text.

  3. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected shape

Add alt text to charts

  1. Right-click a chart.

  2. Select Format Chart Area > Chart Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Chart Area pane describing the selected chart

Add alt text to tables

  1. Right-click a table.

  2. Select Table Properties.

  3. Select the Alt Text tab.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text tab of the Table Properties dialog box

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

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

  2. Select Hyperlink.
    The text you selected displays in the Text to display box. This is the hyperlink text.

  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.

  4. In the Address box, enter the destination address for the hyperlink.

  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

    Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Insert Hyperlink dialog box and ScreenTip text dialog box

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the heading text.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Screenshot of the heading style options

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Bullets button.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Screenshot of bullet style options

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Numbering button.

  4. Type the sequential steps.

Screenshot of numbering style options

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Screenshot of the Automatic color setting for fonts
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, in the lower-right corner of the group, select the More button.
    The Paragraph dialog box opens, showing the Indents and Spacing tab.

  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want.

Screenshot of the Paragraph dialog box

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.

  3. Type column headings.

Screenshot of the Header Row check box

Learn more

Mac: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word documents that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

How to find it

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals and tables.

Visual content includes pictures, clip art, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

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

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to charts

Add alt text to tables

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

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

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use built-in headings and styles.

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

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

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 documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading is followed by only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

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

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

Add alt text to visuals and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals and tables in your Word documents.

Note:  For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, clip art, and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image.

  2. Select Format Picture > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Picture pane describing the selected image

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a SmartArt graphic.

  2. Select Format SmartArt > Shape Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected SmartArt graphic

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes, including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Right-click a shape.

  2. Select Format Shape > Shape Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected shape

Add alt text to charts

  1. Right-click a chart.

  2. Select Format Chart Area > Chart Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Chart Area pane describing the selected chart

Add alt text to tables

  1. Right-click a table.

  2. Select Table Properties.

  3. Select the Alt Text tab.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text tab of the Table Properties dialog

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

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

  2. Select Hyperlink.
    The text you selected displays in the Text to Display box. This is the hyperlink text.

  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.

  4. In the Address box, type the destination URL.

  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

    Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Insert Hyperlink dialog and ScreenTip text dialog

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the heading text.

  2. On the Home tab, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Screenshot of the heading style options

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Bullets button.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Screenshot of bullet style options

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. Select the Numbering button.

  4. Type the sequential steps.

Screenshot of numbering style options

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Screenshot of the Automatic color setting for fonts
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. Select Line and Paragraph Spacing > Line Spacing Options.
    The Paragraph dialog opens, showing the Indents and Spacing tab.

  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want.

Screenshot of the Paragraph dialog

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. On the Table Design tab, select the Header Row check box.

  3. Type column headings.

Screenshot of the Header Row check box

Learn more

iOS: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word documents that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Add hyperlink text

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

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (11pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text “swim together” on a page (the compressing of one line of text into the line below). They often see text merge or distort.

For people who have dyslexia or have low vision, reduce the reading load. For example, they may benefit from familiar sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters, and excessive italics or underlines. Include ample white space between sentences and paragraphs.

Use text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

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

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 documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

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

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text

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

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More icon.

  3. Tap Home > Insert.

  4. Scroll down to the Link command, and then tap it.

  5. The text you selected displays in the Display box. This is the hyperlink text. If necessary, change it.

  6. To add a hyperlink, in the Address box, type the URL.

  7. At the top of the screen, tap Done.

Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Link command, showing URL (address) and text to display

Apply built-in heading styles

  • Select the text.

  • To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More icon.

  • On the Styles command, tap the right arrow.

  • Tap a heading style, such as Heading 1.

Styles command, with Heading 1 selected

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More icon.

  3. On the Bullets command, tap the right arrow.

  4. Tap the bullet option you want.

  5. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Bullets command, showing formatting options

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More icon.

  3. On the Numbering command, tap the right arrow.

  4. Tap the numbering option you want..

  5. Type the sequential steps.

Numbering command, showing formatting options

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Screenshot of the Automatic color setting for fonts
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs:

  1. Select your text.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More icon.

  3. On the Line Spacing command, tap the right arrow.

  4. Tap the spacing option you want.

Line Spacing command, showing formatting options, with 1.15 selected

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. Tap Home > Insert > Table.

  3. On the Style Options command, tap the right arrow.

  4. To select the Header Row option, tap it.

  5. In your table, type column headings.

Style Options command, with Header Row selected

Learn more

Android: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word documents that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals and tables.

Visual content includes pictures, clip art, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

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

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to tables

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Add hyperlink text

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

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text color

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

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

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text “swim together” on a page (the compressing of one line of text into the line below). They often see text merge or distort.

For people who have dyslexia or have low vision, reduce the reading load. For example, they may benefit from familiar sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters, and excessive italics or underlines. Include ample white space between sentences and paragraphs.

Use text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

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

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 documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

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

Add alt text to visuals and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals and tables in your Word documents.

Note: For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images such as pictures, clip art, and screenshots so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image

  1. Select an image.

  2. To open the Picture tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow.

  3. Scroll down to the Alt Text command, and then tap it.

  4. Type a description and a title. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Alt Text command on the Picture tab

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Select a shape.

  2. To open the Shape tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow.

  3. Scroll down to the Alt Text command, and then tap it.

  4. Type a description and a title. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Alt Text command on the Shape tab

Add alt text to tables

  1. Tap anywhere within a table.

  2. To open the Table tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow.

  3. Scroll down to the Alt Text command, and then tap it.

  4. Type a description and a title. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Alt Text command on the Table tab

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text

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

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow.

  3. Tap Home > Insert.

  4. Scroll down to the Link command, and then tap it.

  5. The text you selected displays in the Text to display box. This is the hyperlink text. If necessary, change it.

  6. To add a hyperlink, in the Address box, type the URL.

  7. At the top of the screen, tap Insert.

Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Link command, showing text to display and address

Apply built-in heading styles

  • Select the text.

  • To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow.

  • On the Styles command, tap the right arrow.

  • Tap a heading style, such as Heading 1.

Styles command, with Heading 1 selected

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow. On the Bullets command, tap the right arrow.

  3. Tap the bullet option you want.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Bullets command, showing formatting options

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow. On the Numbering command, tap the right arrow.

  3. Tap the numbering option you want.

  4. Type the sequential steps..

Numbering command, showing formatting options

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Screenshot of the Automatic color setting for fonts
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the up arrow.

  3. On the Paragraph Formatting command, tap the right arrow.

  4. Tap the spacing option you want.

Paragraph command, with formatting options

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. To open the Table tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the down arrow.

  3. On the Style Options command, tap the right arrow.

  4. To select the Header Row option, tap it.

    Tip: When the option is selected, it’s gray.

  5. In your table, type column headings.

Style Options command, with the Header Row selected

Learn more

Office Online: Best practices for making Word Online documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word Online documents that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

How to find it

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with images and tables.

Use the Accessibility Checker in Word Online to find missing alternative text.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

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

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to tables

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Add hyperlink text

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

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use built-in headings and styles.

To find headings not using built-in styles, visually scan your document for text formatted to look like a heading. Select this text, and then look in the Home tab of the ribbon to check if a heading style has been used.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word 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 documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

Use the Accessibility Checker in Word Online to ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns.

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 rows and columns 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

Add alt text to images and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to images and tables in your Word Online documents.

Note: We recommend only putting text in the description field and leaving the title blank. This will provide the best experience with most major screen readers including Narrator. For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, clip art, and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Select an image.

  2. Select Picture Tools > Format.

  3. Select Alt-Text.

  4. Type a description in the Alternative Text dialog box.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alternative Text dialog with Title and Description fields.

Add alt text to tables

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. Select Table Tools > Layout.

  3. Select the Alt-Text tab.

  4. Type a description in the Alternative Text dialog box.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word Online documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text

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

  2. Select Link.
    The text you selected displays in the Display text box. This is the hyperlink text.

  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.

  4. In the Address box, enter the destination address for the hyperlink.

    Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Link dialog with Display Text and Address fields for information for a hyperlink.

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Screenshot of the Automatic color setting for fonts
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the heading text.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Screenshot of Styles group on the Home tab, showing styles such as Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3.

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Bullets button and then select the style of bullet you want to use.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Screenshot of Bullets option in the Paragraph Group on the Home tab, with Solid Bullet, Hollow Bullet, and Square Bullet options.

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Numbering button and then select the style of list you want to use.

  4. Type the sequential steps.

Screenshot of Numbering option in the Paragraph Group on the Home tab, with number and letter options for sequential lists.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, in the lower-right corner of the group, select the More button.
    The Paragraph dialog box opens, showing the Indentation and Spacing options.

  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want.

Screenshot of Paragraph dialog, showing General, Indentation, and Spacing options.

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select Header Row.

  3. Type column headings.

Screenshot of the Table Style Options group on the Table Tools Design tab, with the Header Row option selected.

Use the Accessibility Checker in Word Online

  1. Select the Review tab.

  2. Select Check Accessibility.

  3. Review the results in the Accessibility Checker. Results are categorized based on the severity of the issue found, as follows:

    • Errors. Includes content that is very difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand.

    • Warnings. The content is challenging for people with disabilities to understand.

    • Tips. Tips let you know that, even though people with disabilities can understand the content, it could be better organized or presented to improve their experience.

  4. Fix the issues.

Note: The Accessibility Checker inspects your document for all issues that can be fixed in the browser. For a complete inspection, open your document in the desktop app and use the desktop accessibility checker for Windows or Mac.

Learn more

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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