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Re: Converting word docx documents to PDF


From: John E Brandt
Date: Oct 28, 2011 2:42PM

What are you using to do the PDF conversion?

If you have a Word document that is formatted correctly (e.g., alternative descriptions for your images, semantically correct headings, and tables that have "heading" info, etc.) if you simply use the "Save As" function in Word to save you document as a PDF, it will *probably* convert just fine and show up having no accessibility errors in accessibility checker built into Adobe Acrobat Pro. To do this you choose Save As, and in the "Save as type:" drop-down menu, simply choose "PDF" from the choices provided.

I have had less success (recently no success) with the "Save as Adobe PDF" utility that gets installed by Adobe Connect Pro. While this gives you some extra controls and settings, but I have found the conversions often do not go smoothly. I think part of the reason may have been that I had Office 2007 installed and then upgraded to Office 2010.

If you have old Word documents (pre Word 2007), you need to convert them into the new Word version (i.e., .docx) for you to be able to successfully convert them to accessible PDF. But my experience has been that this doesn't always happen smoothly.

I have also found that documents created by "many hands," files that may have been converted from an iWork Pages document or had stuff cut and pasted into them, with cause problems when trying to convert to PDF. You may have to strip our ALL of the formatting, and re-format.

If you have the opportunity to upgrade to Office 2010, there is an accessibility checker tool installed into that version which helps the process considerably.

I have never had any success with any of the free "word-to-pdf" applications as they typically just convert the file to an image.

Hope this helps.


John E. Brandt
Augusta, Maine, USA

-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of David Farough
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 3:15 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] Converting word docx documents to PDF

Good afternoon:
I have been working for some time on converting a word 2007 document to PDF format using office 2007 and the PDF maker program. I have encountered a few problems and don't know whether it is my PDF maker settings that are at fault, or whether my heading styles are to blame or whether there is something wrong with my Adobe Acrobat pro configuration.

I am noticing that when first opening the converted document, that it seems to take quite a while for Jaws to process the document. (2 to 3 minutes for a 19 page document.)

I have also noticed that in the conversion process all of my heading text has been put in normal tags and that the appropriate heading tags Which contain no text appear directly following the normal tags in the tags tree.

When running the full accessibility report, I get errors for no language defined for all the text in the document and several possible tab order issues that can be corrected by specifying that the tab order should be determined by the document structure.

Can anybody suggest anything that I should do so that I don't have to manually move all of my heading text into the appropriate heading tags?

I am also noticing that it takes Jaws a long time to display the Links list and headings list dialogues. If I specify a heading that is close to the end of the document it takes Jaws a while to move to that location. As things stand now, The document is much more navigable in word.

I am also noticing that in the tags tree, everything else is defined within one section. Is this an issue? I have often in the past seen the section broken down into pages. I am wondering if this is causing problems. In the source document, I have several sections and one of these sections has two column text formatting. I am wondering if putting a continuous break in the document may be the reason that everything is contained in one section.


David Farough
Application Accessibility Coordinator/coordonateur de l'accessibilité Information Technology Services Directorate / Direction des services d'information technologiques Public Service Commission / Commission de la fonction publique Email / Courriel: <EMAIL REMOVED>
Tel. / Tél: (613) 992-2779

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