WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Word 2010 for Windows
Creating Accessible Documents

Creating and Editing Headings

  1. Select the Home tab from the ribbon.
  2. In your document, select the text to convert to a heading.
  3. Click on the appropriate heading level in the Styles in-ribbon gallery; e.g., Heading 1.
  4. Headings 1, 2, or 3 can also be assigned using Control + Alt + 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
    Screenshot of 'Styles' toolbar.

Word documents with a true heading structure provide at least two benefits:

  • The document retains this structure when correctly exported to HTML or PDF.
  • The document's readability is increased for all users.

Adding Alternative Text

  1. Right-click on the image and select Format Picture. A dialog box will appear.
    Screenshot of the 'Format Picture' option selected in an image's context menu.
  2. Select the Alt Text option in the sidebar. Enter the appropriate alternative text in the Description field, NOT the Title field.
    Screenshot emphasizing inserting alt text in the 'Description' field of the 'Format Picture' dialog.

Creating Tables

  1. Use the Insert Table command to create a table.
  2. If your table has a column header(s), right click on the first row in the table and select Table Properties > Row > Repeat as header row at the top of each page.

Do NOT create tables "by hand" with spaces or the Tab key.

Editing Hyperlinks

  1. Select a hyperlink, right-click, and select Edit Hyperlink or Ctrl + K.
  2. Change the text in the Text to display field to a more meaningful description.
    Screenshot of the 'Text to display' field highlighted in the 'Edit Hyperlink' dialog.

Creating Lists

  • Select the Page Layout tab on the ribbon.
  • Select the Bullets or Numbering menu from the Paragraph group.
    Screenshot of selecting the 'Bullets and Numbering' option from the 'Paragraph' group.

Creating Columns

  1. Select the Page Layout tab on the ribbon.
  2. Select Columns in the Page Setup group.
    Screenshot of the 'Columns' drop-down menu on the 'Page Layout' toolbar.

Using the Accessibility Checker

  1. Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.
    Screenshot of the 'Check Accessibility' option from the 'Check for Issues' section.
  2. The checker presents accessibility errors, warnings, and tips for making repairs.

Saving as HTML

  1. Select the Word logo in the upper-left corner and then select Save As > Other Formats.
    Screenshot of the 'Other Formats' option from the 'Save As' section.
  2. Choose one of two options for exporting to HTML from the Save as type drop-down menu:
    • Save as Web Page
    • Save as Web Page, Filtered
      Screenshot of the 'Web Page, Filtered' option from the 'Save as type' drop-down menu.

Converting to PDF

Users can create PDF files with the Adobe Acrobat add-in (recommended), or by using Word to save the document as a PDF file.

Adobe Acrobat Add-in

To export a PDF, select Create PDF from the Acrobat ribbon:

Screenshot of the 'Create PDF' option in the 'Create Adobe PDF' section.


  1. Select File> Save as Adobe PDF.
  2. Double-check that the proper Application Settings are enabled in Word. You only need do this once:
  3. Select Preferences from the Acrobat ribbon.
  4. Ensure that the Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF setting is checked in the Acrobat PDFMaker dialog.
    Screenshot of the 'Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF' setting checked.

Saving to PDF with Word

Accessible PDF files can be created without installing the Adobe Acrobat add-in:

  1. Select File > Save As.
  2. Under Save as Type, select PDF.
  3. Before saving, select Options and ensure that the Document structure tags for accessibility option is selected.

    Screenshot of the 'Document structure tags for accessibility' setting checked.