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Creating Accessible PDF Files

A PDF document may contain logical structure information that allows the information to be accessible to vision or hearing impaired users.  This is called a “Tagged PDF” file.  Converting a file to a tagged PDF document is simple.

Create the file in Microsoft Word:

  • Avoid using Microsoft Publisher.  Publisher does not allow users to save files as a tagged PDF document.  This will cause more accessibility issues which will require more of your time to make repairs; some of which can be very difficult or impossible.
  • Use Microsoft Word to create your files.  PowerPoint converts to tagged PDF format very well.  Excel files can be converted to tagged PDF format; however, layout/content/structure should be in the simplest form possible.
  • Simplicity. Keep content as simple as possible.
  • Use Styles. Use styles to format text such as titles, headings, and paragraphs.

    Microsoft Word "Styles" toolbar

  • Columns command. Use the columns command to create columns instead of tables.

    "Layout" toolbar in Microsoft Word

  • Image descriptions. Provide alternate text for all images – you can do this by viewing the image properties. Review some tips on how to write image descriptions.

    Short-cut menu in Microsoft Word

Supply a title:

  • Provide a title for the file before converting to PDF format:
    File menu in Microsoft Word

    Info tab in Microsoft Word

    Info panel in Microsoft Word with the "Title" field highlighted.

Convert files to PDF format:

  • If converting from MS Word, check "Save As" settings to make sure that a Tagged PDF will be generated.
    Save As dialog box in Microsoft Word

Check accessibility:

Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Pro and run the Accessibility Check tool to check and repair any accessibility errors:

Acrobat Pro DC menu

Additional Information:

Please review the information on the following pages for more information about creating accessible documents:

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