WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Microsoft Word 2013 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 the 'Heading 2' option highlighted in the '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.
  2. Select the Layout & Properties icon and choose Alt Text.
  3. Enter the appropriate alternative text only 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. Select the Insert tab on the ribbon, then select Table > Insert Table.

    Screenshot of the 'Table' option highlighted under the 'Insert' tab on the ribbon.

  2. If your table has a column header(s), select Table Tools > Layout on the ribbon, then choose the Repeat Header Rows option in the Data group.

    Screenshot of the 'Repeat Header Rows' under the 'Table Tools' tab on the ribbon.


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

  1. Select the Home tab on the ribbon.
  2. Choose the Numbered List or Bulleted List option 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.

  3. Choose the number of columns.

Using the Accessibility Checker

  1. Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.

    Screenshot of the 'Check Accessibility' option highlighted from the 'Check for Issues' section.

  2. The checker presents accessibility errors, warnings, and tips for making repairs.

Saving as HTML

  1. Select File > Save As, designate the location (usually Computer), and select a folder.

    Screenshot of the 'Computer' option selected from the 'Save As' menu.

  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 selected from the 'Save as type' 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

  1. To export a PDF, select Create PDF from the Acrobat ribbon,

    Screenshot of the 'Create PDF' option highlighted on the 'Acrobat' ribbon.

    OR select File> Save as Adobe PDF.

    Screenshot of the 'Save as Adobe PDF' option selected from the 'File' menu.

  2. Double-check that the proper Application Settings are enabled in Word. You only need do this once:
    1. Select Preferences from the Acrobat ribbon.
    2. 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 and highlighted in the 'Acrobat PDFMaker' dialog.

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.

    Screenshot of the 'PDF' option selected from the 'Save as type' menu.

  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 and highlighted in the 'Options' dialog.