Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

This topic gives you step-by-step instructions and best practices to make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities. When your documents are accessible, you unlock your content to everyone and people with differing abilities can read your content and work with your files. You learn, for example, 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'll also learn how to use colors and styles to maximize the inclusiveness of your Word documents before sharing them with others.

Event flier announcing the research team offsite on June 9. The image includes a photo and the conference venue’s address.

Word has many features built-in that help people with different abilities to read and author documents. Word also offers the Accessibility Checker that locates elements that might cause problems for people with disabilities.

To learn more about how the Accessibility Checker works, see Rules for the Accessibility Checker.

Windows: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word documents 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.

Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

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

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 the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to visuals in Microsoft 365

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2019

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2016

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

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

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

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

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, use the Accessibility Checker.

You can also look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use built-in headings and styles.

To check that the order of headings is logical, visually scan your document's table of contents.

You can also click on each heading and apply a built-in heading style to it.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word.

For example, 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. And, organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use 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.

You can also visually scan your tables to check that they don't have any completely blank rows or columns.

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.

Use table headers

Add alt text to visuals in Microsoft 365

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals in your Word documents in Microsoft 365:

Note: For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Tip: To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldn’t be longer than a short sentence or two—most of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, "a graphic of" or "an image of."

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, screenshots, icons, videos, and 3D models, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image and select Edit Alt Text.

    Word Win32 Edit Alt Text menu for images

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the image and its context to someone who cannot see it.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for images

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

    Tip: You can also select Generate a description for me to have Microsoft's cloud-powered intelligent services create a description for you. This takes a moment, after which you see the result in the text entry field. Remember to delete any comments Word added there, for example, "Description generated with high confidence."

Add alt text to shapes or SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a shape or SmartArt graphic and select Edit Alt Text.

    Word Win32 Edit Alt Text menu for shapes

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

    Tip: You have to right-click somewhere inside the frame that surrounds the entire shape or SmartArt graphic, not inside one of its parts.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the shape or SmartArt graphic and its context to someone who cannot see it.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for shapes

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Add alt text to charts

  1. Right-click a chart and select Edit Alt Text.

    Word Win32 Edit Alt Text menu for charts

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

    Tip: You have to right-click somewhere inside the frame that surrounds the entire chart, not inside one of its parts.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the chart and its context to someone who cannot see it.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for charts

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Make visuals decorative

Decorative objects add visual interest but aren't informative (for example, stylistic borders). People using screen readers will hear these are decorative so they know they aren't missing any important information.

  1. Right-click a visual and select Edit Alt Text. The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  2. Select the Mark as decorative check box. The text entry field becomes grayed out.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for decorative elements

Tip: If you export your document as a PDF, any visuals you have marked as decorative are preserved by tagging them as artifacts.

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2019

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals in your Word documents in Office 2019:

Note: For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Tip: To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldn’t be longer than a short sentence or two—most of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, "a graphic of" or "an image of."

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, screenshots, icons, videos, and 3D models, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select an image and press the Alt Text button in the Format ribbon tab.

    • Right-click an image and select Edit Alt Text.

    Word Win32 Edit Alt Text menu for images

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the image and its context to someone who cannot see it.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for images

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

    Tip: You can also select Generate a description for me to have Microsoft's cloud-powered intelligent services create a description for you. This takes a moment, after which you see the result in the text entry field. Remember to delete any comments Word added there, for example, "Description generated with high confidence."

Add alt text to shapes or SmartArt graphics

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select a shape or SmartArt graphic and press the Alt Text button in the Format ribbon tab.

    • Right-click a shape or SmartArt graphic and select Edit Alt Text.

    Word Win32 Edit Alt Text menu for shapes

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

    Tip: You have to right-click somewhere inside the frame that surrounds the entire shape or SmartArt graphic, not inside one of its parts.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the shape or SmartArt graphic and its context to someone who cannot see it.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for shapes

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Add alt text to charts

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select a chart and press the Alt Text button in the Format ribbon tab.

    • Right-click a chart and select Edit Alt Text.

    Word Win32 Edit Alt Text menu for charts

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

    Tip: You have to right-click somewhere inside the frame that surrounds the entire chart, not inside one of its parts.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the chart and its context to someone who cannot see it.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for charts

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Make visuals decorative

Decorative objects add visual interest but aren't informative (for example, stylistic borders). People using screen readers will hear these are decorative so they know they aren't missing any important information.

  1. Right-click a visual.

  2. Select Edit Alt Text. The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  3. Select the Mark as decorative check box. The text entry field becomes grayed out.

    Word Win32 Alt Text pane for decorative elements

Tip: If you export your document as a PDF, any visuals you have marked as decorative are preserved by tagging them as artifacts.

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2016

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals in your Word documents in Office 2016:

Note: We recommend only putting text in the description field and leaving the title blank. This will provide the best experience with most major screen readers including Narrator. For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image.

  2. Select Format Picture > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Picture pane describing the selected image

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a SmartArt graphic.

  2. Select Format Object > Shape Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected SmartArt graphic

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes, including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Right-click a shape, and then select Format Shape.

  2. In the right pane, select Layout & Properties, and then select Alt Text.

  3. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected shape

Add alt text to charts

  1. Right-click a chart.

  2. Select Format Chart Area > Chart Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Chart Area pane describing the selected chart

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink, and then right-click.

  2. Select Link. The text you selected displays in the Text to display box. This is the hyperlink text.

  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.

  4. In the Address box, enter the destination address for the hyperlink.

  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

    Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Insert Hyperlink dialog box and ScreenTip text dialog box

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the text you want to turn into a heading.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Screenshot of the heading style options

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the  Bullets button in Word. (Bullets) button.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the  Numbering button in Word. (Numbering) button.

  4. Type the sequential steps.

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then, on the Home tab, select the  Font Color button in Word. (Font Color) menu and select Automatic.

    Font Color menu in Word.
  • Use the Accessibility Checker, to analyze the document and find insufficient color contrast. The tool now checks the documents for text color against page color, table cell backgrounds, highlight, textbox fill color, paragraph shading, shape and SmartArt fills, headers and footers, and links.

  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. On the Home tab, select your text.

  2. In the Paragraph group, in the lower-right corner of the group, select the Paragraph Settings button.

    Paragraph Settings button in Word.

  3. The Paragraph dialog box opens, showing the Indents and Spacing tab.

  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want.

Indents and spacing menu in Word.

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. On the Table Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.

    Table Style Options in Word.
  3. Type the column headings.

See also

Mac: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word documents 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.

Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

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

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 the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to visuals in Microsoft 365

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2016

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

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

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

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

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, use the Accessibility Checker.

You can also look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use built-in headings and styles.

To check that the order of headings is logical, visually scan your document's table of contents.

You can also click on each heading and apply a built-in heading style to it.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word.

For example, 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. And organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading is followed by only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

Use 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.

You can also visually scan your tables to check that they don't have any completely blank rows or columns.

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.

Use table headers

Add alt text to visuals in Microsoft 365

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals in your Word documents in Microsoft 365:

Notes: 

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

  • To enable right-click on your Mac, make sure that the Secondary click option is selected in System Preferences.

Tip: To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldn’t be longer than a short sentence or two—most of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, "a graphic of" or "an image of."

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, screenshots, icons, videos, and 3D models, so that screen readers can read the description to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select an image and press the Alt Text button in the Picture Format ribbon tab.

    • Right-click an image and select Edit Alt Text.

    Alt text option in the context menu in Word

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  2. Type 1 - 2 sentences to describe the image content and context.

    The Alt Text pane in Word

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Add alt text to shapes or SmartArt graphics

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select a shape or SmartArt graphic and press the Alt Text button in the Shape Format ribbon tab.

    • Right-click a shape or SmartArt graphic and select Edit Alt Text.

    Alt text option in a context menu for adding an alt text to a shape

    The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the contents and the context of the shape or SmartArt graphic.

    The Alt Text pane in Word

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Add alt text to charts

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select a chart and press the Alt Text button in the Format ribbon tab.

    • Right-click a chart and select Edit Alt Text.

    Tip: To open the correct menu, right-click in Chart Area, that is, somewhere inside the frame that surrounds the entire chart, not inside one of its parts.

  2. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the contents and the context of the chart.

    Alt Text pane in Word

    Tip: To spell check and correct a word you typed, just right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

Make visuals decorative

Decorative objects add visual interest but aren't informative (for example, stylistic borders). People using screen readers will hear these are decorative so they know they aren't missing any important information.

  1. Right-click a visual.

  2. Select Edit Alt Text. The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.

  3. Select the Mark as decorative check box. The text entry field is grayed out.

    Decorative check box selected in the Alt Text pane

Tip: If you export your document as a PDF, any visuals you have marked as decorative are preserved by tagging them as artifacts.

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2016

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals in your Word documents.

Note: For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image.

  2. Select Format Picture > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Picture pane describing the selected image

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a SmartArt graphic.

  2. Select Format SmartArt > Shape Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected SmartArt graphic

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes, including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Right-click a shape.

  2. Select Format Shape > Shape Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected shape

Add alt text to charts

  1. Right-click a chart.

  2. Select Format Chart Area > Chart Options > Layout & Properties.

  3. Select Alt Text.

  4. Type a description and a title.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Chart Area pane describing the selected chart

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink, and then right-click.

  2. Select Hyperlink.

    The text you selected displays in the Text to Display box. This is the hyperlink text.

  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.

  4. In the Address box, type the destination URL.

  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

    Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Insert Hyperlink dialog box and ScreenTip text dialog box

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the heading text.

  2. On the Home tab, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Bullets button.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. Select the Numbering button.

  4. Type the sequential steps.

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Word for Mac font color selection menu
  • Use the Accessibility Checker, to analyze the document and find insufficient color contrast. The tool now checks the documents for text color against page color, table cell backgrounds, highlight, textbox fill color, paragraph shading, shape and SmartArt fills, headers and footers, and links.

  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. Select Line and Paragraph Spacing > Line Spacing Options.

    The Paragraph dialog opens, showing the Indents and Spacing tab.

  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want.

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. On the Table Design tab, select the Header Row check box.

  3. Type the column headings.

See also

iOS: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

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

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Add hyperlink text

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 format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use a larger font size (11pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text “swim together” on a page (the compressing of one line of text into the line below). They often see text merge or distort.

For people who have dyslexia or have low vision, reduce the reading load. For example, they may benefit from familiar sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters, and excessive italics or underlines. Include ample white space between sentences and paragraphs.

Use text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word.

For example, 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. And, organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

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.

Use table headers

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text

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

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More button.

  3. Tap Home > Insert.

  4. Tap the Link command.

  5. The text you selected is shown in the DISPLAY box. This is the hyperlink text. If necessary, change it.

  6. To add a hyperlink, in the ADDRESS box, type the URL.

  7. At the top of the screen, tap Done.

Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Link command, showing URL (address) and text to display

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the text.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More button.

  3. Tap the Styles command.

  4. Tap a heading style, such as Heading 1.

Styles command, with Heading 1 selected

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More button.

  3. Tap the Bullets command.

  4. Tap the bullet option you want.

  5. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Bullets command, showing formatting options

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More button.

  3. Tap the Numbering command.

  4. Tap the numbering option you want.

  5. Type the sequential steps.

Numbering command expanded, showing formatting options

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Screenshot of the Automatic color setting for fonts
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs:

  1. Select your text.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the end of the toolbar, tap the More button.

  3. Tap Paragraph Formatting > Line spacing.

  4. Tap the spacing option you want.

Line Spacing command, showing formatting options, with 1.15 selected

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. Tap Home > Insert > Table.

  3. Tap the Style Options command.

  4. To select the Header Row option, tap it.

  5. In your table, type the column headings.

Style Options command expanded, with Header Row selected

See also

Android: Best practices for making Word documents accessible

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

What to fix

Why fix it

How to fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals and tables.

Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

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

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 the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to tables

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Add hyperlink text

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 format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

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

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text “swim together” on a page (the compressing of one line of text into the line below). They often see text merge or distort.

For people who have dyslexia or have low vision, reduce the reading load. For example, they may benefit from familiar sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters, and excessive italics or underlines. Include ample white space between sentences and paragraphs.

Use text spacing

Use built-in headings and styles.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word.

For example, 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. And, organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

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.

Use table headers

Add alt text to visuals and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals and tables in your Word documents.

Note: For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images such as pictures and screenshots so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Select an image.

  2. To open the Picture tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Alt Text option, and then tap it.

  4. Type a description. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Word for Android picture alt text dialog box

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Select a shape.

  2. To open the Shape tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Alt Text option, and then tap it.

  4. Type a description. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Add alt text to tables

  1. Tap anywhere within a table.

  2. To open the Table tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Alt Text option, and then tap it.

  4. Type a description. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text

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

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Tap Home > Insert.

  4. Scroll down to the Link option, tap it, and tap Insert Link.

  5. The text you selected displays in the Text to display box. This is the hyperlink text. If necessary, change it.

  6. To add a hyperlink, in the Address box, type the URL.

  7. At the top of the screen, tap Apply.

Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Link command, showing text to display and address

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the text.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Styles option, and then tap it.

  4. Tap a heading style, such as Heading 1.

Word for Android heading styles menu

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Bullets option, and then tap it.

  4. Tap the bullet option you want.

  5. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Word for Android bulleted lists menu

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Numbering option, and then tap it.

  4. Tap the numbering option you want.

  5. Type each item in the numbered list.

Word for Android ordered lists menu

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home > Font Color > Automatic.

    Word for Android font color menu
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. To open the Home tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Paragraph Formatting option, and then tap it.

  4. Tap the spacing option you want.

Word for Android paragraph formatting menu

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. To open the Table tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More Up arrow button.

  3. Scroll down to the Style Options option, and then tap it.

  4. To select the Header Row option, tap it.

    Tip: When an option is selected, it’s grayed.

  5. In your table, type each column heading.

Word for Android table style options menu

See also

Office Online: Best practices for making Word for the web documents accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Word for the web documents 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 images and tables.

Use the Accessibility Checker to find missing alternative text.

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

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 the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to tables

Add meaningful hyperlink text.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

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 to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Add hyperlink text

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

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

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

Use accessible text format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use accessible text color

Use built-in headings and styles.

To find headings not using built-in styles, visually scan your document for text formatted to look like a heading. Select this text, and then look in the Home tab of the ribbon to check if a heading style has been used.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word for the web.

For example, 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. And, organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Apply built-in heading styles

Use bulleted lists

Use ordered lists

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

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

You can also visually scan your tables to check that they don't have any completely blank rows or columns.

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 rows and columns 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.

Use table headers

Add alt text to images and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to images and tables in your Word for the web documents.

Note: We recommend only putting text in the Description field and leaving the Title blank. This will provide the best experience with most major screen readers including Narrator. For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Select an image.

  2. Select Picture > Alt Text. The Format Picture pane opens to the right of the screen.

  3. Type your alt text in the Description box.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Format Picture Alt Text pane in Word for the web.

Add alt text to tables

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. Select Table > Alt Text. The Alternative Text dialog box opens. You may need to select the ... button to see the Alt Text option. 

  3. Type your alt text in the Description box, and select OK.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Table Alternative Text dialog box in Word for the web.

Make hyperlinks, text, and tables accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, text, and tables in your Word for the web documents accessible.

Add hyperlink text

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink, and then right-click.

  2. Select Link. The text you selected displays in the Display text box. This is the hyperlink text.

  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.

  4. In the Address box, enter the destination address for the hyperlink, and select Insert.

    Tip: If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Link insertion dialog box in Word for the web.

Use accessible text color

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select HomeFont Color button in Word for the web.  (Font Color) > Automatic.

    Word Online font color selection menu
  • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

Use accessible text format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol Excel green check mark if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X Screenshot of a red box with an uppercase letter X inside the box. if red indicates “fail”.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: usability.gov and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Apply built-in heading styles

  1. Select the heading text and then select the Home tab.

  2. Select the Styles button and then select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Word Online text styles menu

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. Select the Bullets button in Word for the web.  (Bullets) button and then select the style of bullet you want to use.

  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Word Online bullets menu

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. Select the Numbering button in Word for the web.  (Numbering) button and then select the style of list you want to use.

  4. Type the sequential steps.

Word Online numbering menu

Use text spacing

Increase or decrease white space between sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Select your text.

  2. Select the Home tab.

  3. In the Paragraph group, in the lower-right corner of the group, select the Dialog box launcher button.

    Paragraph Options button in Word for the web.

    The Paragraph dialog box opens, showing the GeneralIndentation and Spacing options.

  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want, and select OK.

Paragraph options dialog box in Word for the web.

Use table headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.

  2. Select Table Design > Header Row.

    Table Header Row selected in Word for the web.

  3. Type your column headings.

See also

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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