Skip to main content

Creating content

Developing accessible content is one of the ways we can make the largest impact toward ensuring access for all members of our community.  Included here are techniques and resources for creating accessible content.

Accessible Documents and PDFs

No matter who your audience is, students, co-workers, members of the larger community, alumni, you want your message to get to those intended recipients. Accessibility is critical to making sure your message gets through.

Quick Tips for Accessible Word and PDF Documents

Set up your document

  • Assign properties to the document, i.e. Title, author, subject, keywords.
  • Set language to English, unless it is a translated document.
  • Create a concise file name that does not contain spaces or special characters.
  • Set protections if appropriate once document is complete.
  • Use Sans Serif fonts, such as Calibri, Arial, or Veranda; avoid Serif fonts such as Times New Roman.
  • Additional requirements for PDF documents
    • Set Word-PDF conversion settings.
    • Set PDF accessibility settings.
    • Set language to English, unless it is a translated document.

Structure the content in your Document

  • Use styles for title, headings, and subheadings and to bold or emphasize important text.
  • Use styles for bulleted and numbered list items.
  • Use the column feature for text in multiple columns.
  • Place DRAFT, date, version or title information in the central document, not just in the header and/or footer areas or as watermarks.
  • Hyperlinks require meaningful names related to the subject rather than "click here"
  • Hyperlink URL addresses begin with http:// or https:// instead of just
  • Hyperlinks, including email addresses, should be keyboard accessible
  • Refrain from using flashing/flickering text and/or animated text.
  • Ensure that any internal links such as Table of Contents function properly.
  • Provide alternative text descriptions for all images, graphs, charts and tables.
  • Use paragraph settings for formatting white space instead of adding multiple returns
  • Fill-in forms are meaningfully organized and include form fields.
  • Use strong contrast between text and background, i.e. black text on white background Using tables in documents
  • Assign header row for all tables.
  • Avoid using merged cells.
  • Organize table headings and cells logically.
  • Assign bookmark to top left cell of tables.
  • Additional requirements for PDF documents
    • Check for logical reading order of content and other visual objects.
    • Descriptive text for sight based content in your document
      • Descriptive text on visual elements is critical for conveying information. Without this information a non-visual person will likely miss information you wanted them to have.
      • Keep descriptions limited to the pertinent information taken away by a visual consumer of the information. For example: If you have an image of a person crossing the street is it sufficient to say a person walking across the street? Or is it important that the reader know the person is a woman and she is wearing red shoes?

Check your document for any issues before you distribute it

  • Use the Accessibility checker feature to check for issues.
  • Correct any issues found.

Useful Resources