Make your OneNote notebooks accessible to people with disabilities

This topic gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make your OneNote notebooks accessible and unlock your content to everyone, including people with disabilities.

You learn, for example, how to work with the Accessibility Checker to tackle accessibility issues while writing your notebook. You'll also learn how to add alt texts to images so that people using screen readers are able to listen to what the image is all about. You can also read about how to use font colors and styles to maximize the inclusiveness of your notebook before sharing it with others.

In this topic

Best practices for making OneNote notebooks accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating OneNote notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

How to find it

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals and embedded files.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Alternative text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images, other visuals, and embedded files.

Add alt text to visuals and embedded files

Add meaningful and accurate hyperlink text.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information, visually scan your notebook.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links.

Add accessible hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

To determine whether you have named all content and deleted empty items, visually scan your notebook.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier to find specific information. This also helps people using screen readers as they can know what an item contains without opening it.

Rename sections and section groups

Delete unused sections and section groups

Add a page title or rename a page

Delete unused pages

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

Use the Automatic font color for your text. Visually scan your notebook for instances of color-coding.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text color and formatting

If you must use tables, create a simple table structure for data only, and specify column header information.

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, or nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. 

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Avoid using tables

Use table headers

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.

To find potential issues related to fonts or white space, review your slides for areas that look crowded or illegible.

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text merge or distort.

Use accessible text color and formatting

Use accessible text alignment and spacing

Make audio and video files accessible to people who are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files have subtitles, closed captions, or video descriptions before being inserted into OneNote.

Make audio and video files accessible

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings and enables people to navigate by heading.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information. 

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks which are arranged in a logical order.

To find headings that are not in a logical order, use the Accessibility Checker.

Apply built-in heading styles

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Check accessibility while you work in OneNote

The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear.

To launch the Accessibility Checker, select Review > Check Accessibility. The Accessibility pane opens, and you can now review and fix accessibility issues. For more info, go to Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker.

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Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for screen readers. Screen readers enable people to navigate by heading, but they cannot interpret a line of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

Organize headings in the prescribed logical order and do not skip heading levels. For example, use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2. 

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process. Ideally, each heading includes only a few paragraphs.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. On the Home tab, select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Screenshot of selecting a heading style from the Home menu.

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Avoid using tables

In general, avoid tables if possible and present the data another way, like paragraphs with headings and banners. Tables with fixed width might prove difficult to read for people who use Magnifier, because such tables force the content to a specific size. This makes the font very small, which forces Magnifier users to scroll horizontally especially on mobile devices.

If you have to use tables, use the following guidelines to make sure your table is as accessible as possible:

  • Avoid fixed width tables.

  • Make sure the tables render properly on all devices, including phones and tablets.

  • If you have hyperlinks in your table, edit the link texts, so they make sense and don't break mid-sentence.

  • Make sure the notebook is easily read with Magnifier. View it on your computer and a mobile device to see how it looks on different screens.

  • Use table headers.

  • Test accessibility with Immersive reader.

Use table headers

If you do need to use tables, add headers to your table to help screen readers keep track of the columns and rows. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote automatically have a header row. It is possible to remove/add the header row using the OneNoteWindows app. If your notebook has a table with the Header Row option unselected, you can use the Windows app to resolve this issue.

  1. In your table, place the cursor somewhere on the first row.

  2. On the Table tab, select Insert Above.

  3. Right-click the inserted row in the table, and select Table. Check that Header Row is selected.

  4. Go back to your table and type the column headings.

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Add alt text to visuals and embedded files

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of text and its intent. Screen readers read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

You should also add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen reader users can hear a description of the file.

  1. Right-click the visual or embedded file, and select Alt Text.

  2. Type a title and a description for the item.

    Screenshot of the alternative text dialog in OneNote with example texts in the Title and Description fields.

    Depending on your OneNote version, the Description field may already contain a machine-generated alt text. You can edit this text as you see fit.

  3. When you're ready, select OK.

For more info on how to write alt text, go to Everything you need to know to write effective alt text. Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker.

Notes: 

  • For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in your notebook.

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Make audio and video files accessible

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote. Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions, or video description.

  • Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

  • Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

  • Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to people with a vision disability.

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Add accessible hyperlink text

Add meaningful text to a hyperlink to let users know what’s behind the link. People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of using link texts such as "Click here," "See this page," "Go here," or "Learn more," include the full title of the destination page.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the Insert tab, select Link.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Add the hyperlink URL to the Address field.

    You can copy and paste the address, use the Browse the Web or Browse for File buttons, or pick a location in OneNote to find the destination page, file, or OneNote item.

    Screenshot of the link dialog in OneNote. Contains two fields to fill in: Text to display and Address.
  5. Select OK.

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Use a single note container per page

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

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Rename sections and section groups

When you name your notebook content descriptively and accurately, it is easier for people to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section or section group contains without opening it.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section or section group name you want to edit, and select Rename.

  2. Type the new name, and then press Enter.

    Screenshot of the context menu with the Rename option selected.

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Delete unused sections and section groups

To help everyone find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections and section groups that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section or section group you want to remove, and select Delete.

    Delete section group in OneNote for Windows dialog
  2. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

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Add a page title or rename a page

Pages that are descriptively and accurately titled make it easier to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a page contains without opening it.

  1. In a notebook, open the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the name on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote for the web

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Delete unused pages

To help everyone find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to remove, and select Delete.

    Delete page in OneNote for Windows dialog

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Use accessible text color and formatting

The text in your notebook should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well. To ensure that text displays well in the high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font color.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors. Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristic.

To make your text more accessible with formatting, select a plain sans-serif font and use a larger font size.

  1. Select the text you want to format.

  2. On the Home tab, click the down arrow on the Font Color button, and select Automatic.

    Screenshot of the font color option in the Home menu.
  3. On the Home tab, select, for example, a larger font size (18pt or larger) and a familiar sans-serif font, such as Arial or Calibri. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis. Avoid excessive use of block capitals, underlining, and italics.

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Use accessible text alignment and spacing

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Align your paragraph to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words, and increase or decrease the white space between lines to improve readability. Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  1. Select the text you want to modify.

  2. On the Home tab, select Paragraph Alignment.

  3. To align the paragraph text to the left, select Align Left.

    Screenshot of the Paragraph Alignment options in OneNote 2016.
  4. To modify the line spacing, select Paragraph Spacing Options, and enter the spacing you want to use.

    Screenshot of the Paragraph Spacing Option in the Home menu.

    Note: The paragraph spacing values in OneNote follow a different logic than the values in, for example, Word. In OneNote, you need to enter the total number (in points) for both the current font size and its intended line spacing. For example, to double-space Calibri font size 11, enter 27 into the Line spacing at least field.

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Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break the text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select Bullets.

  3. To change the bullet style, click the down arrow on the Bullets button.

    Screenshot of the bullet list item selection in the Home menu.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a period or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

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Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select Numbering.

  3. To change the numbering style, click the down arrow on the Numbering button.

    Screenshot of the numbered list option in the Home menu.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

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Test accessibility with Immersive Reader

Try reading the notebook with Immersive Reader to check how it sounds like.

  1. In your notebook, select ViewImmersive Reader. Immersive Reader opens in a new window.

  2. Select Play to hear your notebook read aloud.

  3. To exit Immersive Reader, select Exit.

For more information, refer to Use Immersive Reader for OneNote.

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See also

Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker

Rules for the Accessibility Checker

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities

The following table includes best practices for creating OneNote for Mac notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text "Click here," include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Rename section groups

Delete section groups

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

Use additional means to convey the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text formatting

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text formatting

Use appropriate text alignment

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading includes only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

To find headings that are not in a logical order, use the Accessibility Checker.

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure for data only, and specify column header information.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote for Mac are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

To ensure that tables don't contain nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Make audio or video accessible to people who are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions, or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen reader users can hear a description of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Alt Text.

  2. Type a title and a description in the fields. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When you're ready, select OK.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

    Alt text dialog for OneNote on Mac.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen reader users can hear a description of the file.

  1. Right-click the file in your notebook, and select Alt Text.

  2. Type a title and description for the file.

    Add alt text to embedded files in OneNote for Mac
  3. Once you're done, select OK.

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add meaningful text to a hyperlink to let users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the Insert tab, select Link.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Add the hyperlink URL to the Address field. You can copy and paste the address from the original location.

    Hyperlink dialog in Mac.

  5. Select OK.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the section they need.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section tab you want to edit, and select Rename.

  2. Type the new name.

    Section context menu with Rename section highlighted.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section tab you want to remove, and select Delete Section.

    Section context menu in Mac with Delete Section highlighted.

  2. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

Rename section groups

Descriptive and accurately titled section groups help users find the correct section group.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to rename.

  2. Select Rename.

    Rename section group in OneNote for Mac
  3. Type the new name for the section group, and then press Enter.

Delete section groups

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused section groups that contain no information.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete.

    Delete section group in OneNote for Mac
  3. In the confirmation dialog box, select, Yes.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In a notebook, open the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the name on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote for Mac

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete.

    Delete page in OneNote for Mac

Use accessible text formatting

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the text you want to format.

  2. On the Home tab you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in the high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. On the Home tab, click the down arrow on the Font Color button, and select Automatic.

    Font color pull down menu in OneNote for Mac.

Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the text you want to modify.

  2. On the Home tab, select Paragraph Alignment, and select Align Left.

    Paragrah alignment pull down menu in Mac.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a line of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. On the Home tab, select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Heading style menu in OneNote for Mac,

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break the text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select Bullets.

  3. To change the bullet style, click the down arrow on the Bullets button.

    Bulleted list pull down menu in Mac.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a period or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select Numbering.

  3. To change the numbering style, click the down arrow on the Numbering button.

    Numbered  list pull down menu in Mac.
  4. If needed, type the list items.

See also

Rules for the Accessibility Checker

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities

In this topic

Best practices for making OneNote notebooks accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating OneNote for iOS notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images, other visuals, and embedded files.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier to find specific information. This also helps people using screen readers as they can know what an item contains without opening it.

Rename a section or section group

Rename a page

Delete a section or a section group

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text formatting

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia might perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words.

Use accessible text formatting

Use appropriate text alignment

Use accessible lists

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking or tapping and then adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Make audio and video files accessible to people who are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions, or video description.

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Add alt text to images and embedded files

Alt text helps people who use screen readers to understand what’s important in the images and embedded files. In the alt text, describe the content of the image or file and mention its intent. Keep it brief but include descriptions of what's important about the image or file. Screen readers read the description to users who can’t see the content.

For detailed info on how to write alt text, go to Everything you need to know to write effective alt text

Add alt text to images 

  1. On the notebook page, tap and hold the image.

  2. In the context menu, swipe left, and then select Alt Text.

  3. Type a description for the image. When you're ready, select Done.

    Alt text dialog box for images in OneNote for iOS.

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Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen reader users can hear a description of the file.

  1. On the notebook page, tap and hold the file.

  2. In the context menu, swipe left, and select Alt Text.

  3. Type a description for the file and select Done.

    Alt text dialog box for an embedded file in OneNote for iOS.

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Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add meaningful text to a hyperlink to let users know what’s behind the link. People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of using link texts such as "Click here," "See this page," "Go here," or "Learn more," include the full title of the destination page.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the menu bar, swipe left and select  Insert link button in OneNote for iOS. (Insert hyperlink).

  3. The text you selected is shown in the DISPLAY text field. This is the hyperlink text. You can now change it if necessary.

  4. Type or paste the hyperlink URL into the ADDRESS text field, and then select Done.

    Hyperlink dialog in iPhone.

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Name your sections, section groups, and pages descriptively

Descriptive and accurately titled sections, section groups, and pages help users find the section they need.

Rename a section or section group

  1. In the Sections list, select Edit.

  2. Select the section tab or section group you want to rename, and on the menu bar, select  Rename section or section group button in OneNote for iOS (Rename).

    Rename section button in the menu bar in iPhone.
  3. Type the new name, and then select Done.

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Rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In the Pages list, select the page you want to name or rename.

  2. On the page title line above the time and date, modify the page name.

    Rename page in OneNote for iOS

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Delete unused sections, section groups, and pages

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections, section groups, and pages that contain no information.

Delete a section or section group

  1. In the Sections list, select Edit.

  2. Select the section tab or section group you want to remove, and on the menu bar, select  Delete page, section, or section group button in OneNote for iOS (Delete).

  3. In the confirmation dialog box, select Delete.

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Delete a page

  1. In the Pages list, select Edit.

  2. Select the page you want to remove, and on the menu bar, select  Delete page, section, or section group button in OneNote for iOS (Delete).

    Delete page in OneNote for iOS

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Use accessible text formatting

To make your text formatting more accessible, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

To change the text colors to increase the contrast between the text and the background, switch to the full desktop or Windows 10 app version of OneNote. For instructions on how to rename section groups in OneNote for Windows, OneNote for Mac, or OneNote for Windows 10, go to the respective tab and section in this topic.

Apply text formatting

  1. Select the text you want to format.

  2. On the menu bar, swipe left and select the option you want. You can select, for example, bold or italic font, or underline for emphasis.

    Bold text button on the menu bar in iPhone.

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Change the font type and size

  1. In the Sections view, select  Screenshot of the More Options button in OneNote for iOS. (More actions) > Settings.

    Settings button in Notebooks on iPhone.
  2. Select Edit and View.

  3. Select a larger default font size and a sans-serif default font.

    The Edit and View menu in OneNote for iOS settings.

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Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the text to modify.

  2. On the menu bar, select  Decrease indent button in OneNote for iOS. (Decrease indent).

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Use accessible lists

When feasible, break continuous text into bulleted or numbered lists to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the menu bar, select  The bullets button in OneNote for iOS. (Bullets) or  The numbering button in OneNote for iOS. (Numbering).

  3. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a period or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

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Test the accessibility of your pages 

When your page is ready, you can try a few things to make sure the pages are accessible:

  • Switch to the full desktop or web version of OneNote and do one or both of the following:

    • Run the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear. For instructions, go to Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker.

    • Try reading the page with Immersive Reader to check how it sounds like. Immersive Reader is a free tool, built into OneNote, that might improve reading and writing for people regardless of their age or ability. For instructions, go to Use Immersive Reader for OneNote.

  • In the OneNote for iOS app, you can try navigating the slides using the built-in screen reader, VoiceOver. VoiceOver comes with iOS, so there's no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

    1. To turn on TalkBack, in your device settings, select Accessibility > VoiceOver, and then select the VoiceOver switch.

    2. To navigate the content on the page, swipe left or right. Modify the reading order of the elements on the page if necessary.

Top of Page  

See also

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities

In this topic

Best practices for making OneNote notebooks accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating OneNote for Android notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images, other visuals, and embedded files.

Add alt text to images and embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier to find specific information. This also helps people using screen readers as they can know what an item contains without opening it.

Rename a section

Rename a page

Delete a section

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use accessible text formatting

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.

People with dyslexia might perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Use accessible text formatting

Use appropriate text alignment

Create accessible lists

Make audio and video files accessible to people who are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions, or video description.

Top of Page 

Add alt text to images and embedded files

Alt text helps people who use screen readers to understand what’s important in the images and embedded files. In the alt text, describe the content of the image or file and mention its intent. Keep it brief but include descriptions of what's important about the image or file. Screen readers read the description to users who can’t see the content.

For detailed info on how to write alt text, go to Everything you need to know to write effective alt text

Add alt text to images

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you use images with text in them, repeat the text in the alt text. If your image is decorative, mention that in the alt text.

  1. Tap and hold the image in your notebook.

  2. In the context menu, select Alt Text.

  3. Type a title and description for the image. When you're ready, select DONE.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

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Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen reader users can hear a description of the file.

  1. On a notebook page, tap and hold the file where you want to add alt text.

  2. In the context menu, select Alt Text.

  3. Type a description for the file, and then select DONE.

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Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add meaningful text to a hyperlink to let users know what’s behind the link. People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of using link texts such as "Click here," "See this page," "Go here," or "Learn more," include the full title of the destination page.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the menu bar, swipe left, and then select  Insert hyperlink button in OneNote for Android. (Insert hyperlink). The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

  3. Type or paste the hyperlink URL into the Address field.

  4. Select DONE.

    Add hyperlink dialog in OneNote for Android

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Name your sections and pages descriptively

Descriptive and accurately titled sections and pages help users find the information they need.

To rename section groups, switch to the full desktop or Windows 10 app version of OneNote. For instructions on how to rename section groups in OneNote for Windows, OneNote for Mac, or OneNote for Windows 10, go to the respective tab and section in this topic.

Rename a section

  1. In the SECTIONS list, tap and hold the section you want to rename.

  2. In the menu bar, select  The Rename button in OneNote for Android. (Rename section).

  3. Type the new name and select RENAME.

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Rename a page

  1. In the PAGES list, select the page you want to rename.

  2. Type the new name for the page on the page title line above the time and date.

    The page title field in OneNote for Android.

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Delete unused sections and pages

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections and pages that contain no information.

To delete section groups, switch to the full desktop or Windows 10 app version of OneNote. For instructions on how to delete section groups in OneNote for Windows, OneNote for Mac, or OneNote for Windows 10, go to the respective tab and section in this topic.

Delete a section

  1. In the SECTIONS list, tap and hold the section you want to remove.

  2. In the menu bar, select  Delete button in OneNote for Android. (Delete section).

  3. In the confirmation dialog box, select DELETE.

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Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the PAGES list, tap and hold the page you want to remove.

  2. In the menu bar, select  Delete button in OneNote for Android. (Delete page).

  3. In the confirmation dialog box, select DELETE.

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Use accessible text formatting

Accessible text formatting doesn't exclude or slow down the reading speed of anyone reading a page in your notebook, including people with low vision or reading disability or people who are blind. The right formatting improves the legibility and readability of the page.

To change the font type and size, switch to the full desktop, Windows 10 app, or web version of OneNote. For instructions on how to change the font type and size in OneNote for Windows, OneNote for Mac, OneNote for Windows 10, or OneNote for the web, go to the respective tab and section in this topic.

To make your text more accessible with formatting in the OneNote for Android app, you can, for example, use bold font, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the text you want to format.

  2. On the menu bar, select the option you want. You can, for example, use bold font or underline for emphasis.

    Text formatting buttons on toolbar in OneNote for Android

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Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the text you want to align.

  2. On the menu bar, select Decrease indent button in OneNote for Android. (Decrease indent).

Top of Page  

Create accessible lists

To make it easier for screen readers to read your pages, organize the information into small chunks such as bulleted or numbered lists.

Design lists so that you do not need to add a plain paragraph without a bullet or number to the middle of a list. If your list is broken up by a plain paragraph, some screen readers might announce the number of list items wrong. Also, the user might hear in the middle of the list that they are leaving the list. 

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the menu bar, select  Bullets button in OneNote for Android. (Bullets) or  Numbering button in OneNote for Android. (Numbering).

  3. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a period or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Top of Page  

Test the accessibility of your pages

When your page is ready, you can try a few things to make sure the pages are accessible:

  • Switch to the full desktop or web version of OneNote and do one or both of the following:

    • Run the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear. For instructions, go to Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker.

    • Try reading the page with Immersive Reader to check how it sounds like. Immersive Reader is a free tool, built into OneNote, that might improve reading and writing for people regardless of their age or ability. For instructions, go to Use Immersive Reader for OneNote.

  • In the OneNote for Android app, you can try navigating the slides using the built-in screen reader, TalkBack. TalkBack comes with Android, so there's no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

    1. To turn on TalkBack, in your device settings, select Accessibility > TalkBack > Use service.

    2. To navigate the content on the page, swipe left or right. Modify the reading order of the elements on the page if necessary.

Top of Page  

See also

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities

The following table includes best practices in OneNote for Windows 10 for creating notebooks that are accessible to all people.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text “Click here,” include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Rename section groups

Delete section groups

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

Use additional means to convey the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text formatting

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in the high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text formatting

Use appropriate text alignment

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading includes only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure for data only, and specify column header information.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote for Windows 10 are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

Make audio or video accessible to people who are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions, or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen reader users can hear a description of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Picture > Alt Text.

  2. Type a title and a description in the fields. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When you're ready, select Done.

    Tip: Fill in both the Title and Description fields, as different screen readers read this information in different ways.

    Alt text dialog for adding alt text in OneNote for Windows 10.

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen reader users can hear a description of the file.

  1. Right-click the file on the page.

  2. Select  Alt text button for embedded files in OneNote for Windows 10.  (Alt Text).

  3. Type a title and a description for the file, and select Done.

    Add alt text to embedded files in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add meaningful text to a hyperlink to let users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the Insert tab, select Link.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Text to display field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Type or paste the hyperlink URL into the Address field, and select Insert.

    Screenshot of the dialog for adding a hypertext link in OneNote for Windows 10.

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the section they need.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to edit, and select Rename Section.

    Screenshot of the context menu for renaming a section tab in OneNote for Windows 10.

  2. Type the new name, and then press Enter.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to remove, and select Delete Section.

    Screenshot of the context menu for deleting a section tab in OneNote for Windows 10.

  2. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

Rename section groups

Descriptive and accurately titled section groups help users find the correct section group.

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to rename and select Rename Section Group.

    Rename section gourps in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  2. Type the new name, and then press Enter.

Delete section groups

  1. In the sections list, right-click the section group you want to remove, and select Delete Section Group.

    Delete section groups in OneNote for Windows 10 app
  2. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In a notebook, open the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the name on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote for the web

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In the page list, right-click the page tab you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete Page.

    Remove page in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Use accessible text formatting

To make your text formatting more accessible, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the text you want to format.

  2. On the Home tab, you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

    Text formatting buttons on the Home menu ribbon in OneNote for Windows 10.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. On the Home tab, select the down arrow on the Font Color button, and then select Automatic.

    Text color menu in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the text you want to modify.

  2. On the Home tab, select  The paragraph formatting button on the Home tab in OneNote for Windows 10.  (Paragraph Formatting).

  3. Select  The align left button in the paragraph format menu in OneNote for Windows 10.  (Align Left).

    Left align paragraphs in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a line of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. On the Home tab, select  The styles button on the Home tab in OneNote for Windows 10.  (Styles), then select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Headings list in OneNote for Windows 10 app

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break continuous text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select  Bullets button on the Home tab in OneNote for Windows 10.   (Bullets).

  3. To change the bullet style, select the down arrow on the Bullets button, and then select the style you want.

    Bullet list button selected on the Home menu ribbon in OneNote for Windows 10.

  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a period or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select  Numbering button on the Home tab in OneNote for Windows 10.   (Numbering).

  3. To change the numbering style, select the down arrow on the Numbering button, and select the style you want.

    Numbered list buttons on the Home menu ribbon in OneNote for Windows 10.

  4. If needed, type the list items.

See also

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

The following table includes best practices for creating OneNote for the web notebooks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all pictures and embedded files.

Alternative text that describes pictures and other objects is important for people who can’t see the screen. Screen readers read alternate text aloud, so it’s the only information that some people will have about pictures and objects. Ensure that the alternative text is meaningful.

Avoid using images as the sole method of conveying text, as lengthy alternative text is cumbersome to navigate with a screen reader.

Add alternative text that describes the image or object for people who can't see it. Keep it brief, but include a description of what's important about the image.

If you have to use an image with short text in it, repeat that text in the body text.

When inserting a file printout, make sure to keep the original file on the page as an alternative source of the information.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to embedded files

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking from the text "Click here," include the full title of the destination page.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Give section groups, sections, and pages unique names, and remove empty items.

Notebooks with content named descriptively make it easier for you to find specific information in your notes. This also helps people using screen readers to know what a section, section group or page contains without opening it.

Rename sections

Delete sections

Add a title or rename a page

Delete a page

You can rename or delete section groups in the OneNote desktop or Windows 10 app version. For the instructions on how to rename or delete section groups in Windows desktop or Windows 10 app, see the respective sections in this topic.

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People with impaired vision, no vision, or colorblindness might miss the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Make sure you don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Create text that duplicates the meaning of the color or other sensory characteristics.

Use additional means to convey the information, such as a shape or label. For example, consider using a green checkmark to indicate success and a red X to indicate failure, instead of green and red shading.

Use accessible text formatting

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your notebooks should be readable in high contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who have low vision to distinguish text and shapes.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans-serif fonts, and appropriate white space.

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge.

Having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

To reduce the reading load, you can, for example:

  • Use familiar sans-serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri.

  • Avoid the use of all capital letters and excessive use of italics or underlines.

  • Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs, but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

  • Left-align your paragraphs instead of using justification. This helps to avoid uneven gaps between words, which can create a visual effect of a river of white space flowing through the paragraph.

Use accessible text formatting

Use appropriate text alignment

Use built-in headings and styles.

Screen reader software recognizes built-in heading styles as headings, and can announce headings to the listener. Screen reader software also enables people to navigate by heading. To make it easier for screen readers to read your notes, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in OneNote Online.

In addition, people with reading disorders such as dyslexia depend on headings to help them structure information, and divide the information into smaller-sized chunks that are easier to process.

To make navigation easier, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2.

Use headings to organize the information in your notes into small chunks. Ideally, each heading includes only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Keep information in a single note container.

In OneNote, you can add notes anywhere on a page by clicking and adding content. This creates a new note container.

Having all notes on a page in a single container helps screen reader users read in one place without having to navigate to multiple locations on the page.

Try moving all of the information on a page into a single note container. If a note container becomes too large, you can split it across multiple pages or add descriptive headers. (Screen readers refer to note containers as “content blocks.”)

Use a simple table structure for data only, and specify column header information.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

All tables created in OneNote Online are created with a header row by default. To add a table header that has been removed, you must use the Windows Desktop app to Add a table header.

Make audio or video accessible to people who are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Where possible, ensure that audio and video files are accessible before being inserted into OneNote.

Alternatively, insert an additional file into the notebook to provide supporting subtitles, captions, or video description.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as photos, graphics, clip art, and screenshots so that screen reader users can hear a description of the image.

  1. Right-click the image in your notebook, and select Alt Text.

  2. Type a description in the field. Keep it short, start with the most important information, and aim to convey the content and functionality of the image. When you're ready, select OK.

    Alternative text dialog for OneNote for the web

Add alt text to embedded files

Add alt text to embedded files, such as supporting materials, job descriptions, or report templates so that screen reader users can hear a description of the file.

  1. Right-click the file in your notebook, and select Alt Text.

  2. Type a description for the file, and select OK.

    Add alt text to embedded files in OneNote for the web

Make hyperlinks and text accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks and text in your OneNote Online notebooks more accessible.

Add meaningful hyperlink text

Add meaningful text to a hyperlink to let users know what’s behind the link.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink.

  2. On the Insert tab, select Link.

  3. The text you selected is shown in the Display Text field. This is the hyperlink text. You can change it if necessary.

    Tip: Avoid using “click here” or similar non-descriptive expressions. The link text should describe the destination page accurately but briefly.

  4. Type or paste the hyperlink URL in the Address field, and select Insert.

    Hyperlink dialog for OneNote for the web

Rename sections

Descriptive and accurately titled sections help users find the section they need.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to edit, and select Rename Section.

  2. Type the new name.

    Rename section option highlighted in the section context menu in OneNote for Windows 10.

Delete sections

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused sections that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the section tab you want to remove, and select Delete Section.

    Delete section option highlighted in the section context menu in OneNote for Windows 10.

  2. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

Add a title or rename a page

Descriptive and accurately titled pages help users find the correct page.

  1. In a notebook, open the page you want to name or rename.

  2. Type the name on the page title line above the time and date.

    Rename page in OneNote for the web

Delete a page

To help screen readers and users find relevant information quickly, remove any unused pages that contain no information.

  1. In a notebook, right-click the page tab you want to remove.

  2. Select Delete Page.

    Delete Page option highlighted in the page context menu in OneNote for Windows 10.

Use accessible text formatting

To improve your text formatting, select a plain sans-serif font, use a larger font size, align your text to the left, and avoid excessive use of block capitals and italics.

  1. Select the text you want to format.

  2. On the Home tab you can select, for example, a larger font size and a sans-serif font. You can also use other formatting options, such as bold font for emphasis.

Use accessible text color

To ensure that text displays well in high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  1. Select your text.

  2. On the Home tab, select the down arrow on the Font Color button, and select Automatic.

    Font color menu options in OneNote for the web

Use appropriate text alignment

Align your paragraphs to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words.

  1. Select the text you want to modify.

  2. On the Home tab, select Paragraph Alignment > Align Left.

    Paragraph alignment menu options in OneNote for the web.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use the built-in heading styles to form an outline of the notebook pages for screen readers. Screen readers don’t interpret a line of text with large and bold font as a heading unless the built-in styles are applied.

  1. Select the text for the heading.

  2. On the Home tab, select a heading style, such as Heading 2.

    Heading styles options in OneNote for the web

Use bulleted lists

When feasible, break the text into bullet points to improve readability and navigation.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select  Bullets button in OneNote Web  (Bullets).

  3. To change the bullet style, select the down arrow on the Bullets button, and then select the style you want.

    Bulleted list menu in OneNote for the web

  4. If needed, type the list items.

    Tip: Use a period or a comma at the end of each list item to make screen readers pause.

Use ordered lists

Use a numbered list for a sequence, as that is easier to follow than a continuous block of text.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the list in your notebook, or select the text to be included in the list.

  2. On the Home tab, select The Numbered list in OneNote Web.  (Numbering).

  3. To change the numbering style, select the down arrow on the Numbering button, and then select the style you want.

    Numbered list menu options in OneNote for the web

  4. If needed, type the list items.

See also

Rules for the Accessibility Checker

Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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