Microsoft Word Documents

Creating accessible Microsoft Word documents

Microsoft Word is one of the most common word processors used to create files that sometimes end up in PDF and/or HTML formats. The information below will guide you in creating accessible Word documents.

Creating and editing headings
  • A uniform heading structure is one of the most important considerations when creating your document. Headings allow screen reader users to easily navigate pages. It is not best practice to simply increase the font size or bold text to make it look like a heading.
  • To create a heading, select the text and choose the appropriate heading level from the Styles gallery.
  • Make sure to change the default color setting to add more contrast. Microsoft Word uses a light blue color as the default for headings, which provides insufficient color contrast.
  • It is best practice to use headings in the correct order. There should be only one Heading 1 per page. Subsequent headings allow you to "chunk" your content, which makes the page easier to read.
Selecting appropriate text
  • Make sure the text font is easy to read. San Serif fonts such as, Arial, Helvetica and Verdana, magnify well for users with low vision.
  • We recommend using 12 point font at a minimum. 
  • Floating text boxes, track changes and commenting are not always accessible with screen readers.
Using meaningful text for links
  • Consider screen reader users when creating your links. Screen readers will say "link" before reading hyperlinked text. Be mindful of how you write your sentence and what you choose to hyperlink, and imagine the word "link" said preceding the hyperlink.
  • Screen reading software can also pull all of the links in a document for quick navigation. If the link pulled doesn't have meaningful text associated with it, the screen reader user may not know where the link goes. For example, ambiguous text such as, "click here", doesn't tell the user where the link leads.
  • The hyperlink should succinctly inform the reader of its destination, is not too wordy, and gives enough information for a screen reader. For example: "Visit Getting Started with SAS to learn more about our registration procedures."
Additional resources