Make your templates more accessible

Learn the top five ways to boost accessibility for your Office 2016 templates.

Get started with templates

Templates make short work of the task at hand, whether it’s creating a brochure in Word, an invoice in Excel, a business presentation in PowerPoint, or a newsletter in Outlook. When you start a new file based on a template, the formatting, page layout, and special tools are already set up.

Templates are also great for helping you follow a standard. If you want to make sure that all your work is accessible, you can save a lot of time by starting with an accessible template

You can easily create templates in Office programs—just save your work in a template file format. With some careful choices, you can make sure your template is inclusive, that it doesn’t present challenges for people with disabilities or who use assistive technologies such as screen readers.

Top five best practices for templates

Use the built-in Office formatting tools

The built-in Office tools are pre-programmed to solve common problems with accessibility. This includes heading styles, bullet and number commands on the ribbon, and table tools.

  • These tools work well with assistive technologies like screen readers and speech-to-text tools.

  • Built-in tools enable headings, bullets, and tables to map correctly to different file formats, such as PDF and HTML. This means

    • Headings in Word are saved as headings in a PDF or HTML file.

    • Bulleted and numbered lists are saved as correctly tagged lists, with numbers and symbols that screen readers can handle.

    • Tables are saved with correct navigation information, so that rows and columns are correctly designated.

Boost readability for people with dyslexia or low vision

  • Use sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Don't rely on color or style alone to communicate information. Combine color or style with shapes or text.

  • Check for contrast between text and background. for more information, see the Color contrast Ratio Calculator.

Make tables and images more accessible

  • Always add alt text to tables, images, and other non-text content. This includes photos, videos, tables, charts, SmartArt graphics, and clip art.

  • Include a header row in tables.

  • Label or title text boxes, images, columns and rows in tables, graphics, and charts.

Make the template file easy to find

  • Provide a meaningful file name. If possible, give clues about content and a date.

  • Include document properties such as title and author.

Test your template

  • Open a new document, workbook, email, or presentation that is based on your template.

  • Run the Accessibility Checker on your new document to find and fix accessibility issues.

  • Verify that you can navigate through fields, text boxes, and cells in a logical order.

Check for accessibility issues with Accessibility Checker

Word 2016, Excel 2016, and PowerPoint 2016, and earlier versions of these products include an Accessibility Checker that helps you find and fix areas in your template that have accessibility issues. Before submitting your template, run Accessibility Checker and review those areas it identifies as challenging for users with disabilities to view or use. For more information, see Check for accessibility issues and Rules used by the Accessibility Checker.

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More information

Make your Word documents accessible

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible

Make your Outlook email accessible

Make your OneNote notebooks accessible

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