Accessible office documents


This refers to widely used digital files, such as Word which are an integral element of academic communication. Here, you may find guidance on producing born-accessible documents and solving accessibility issues. Publishing documents that can be used directly by both sighted and print-disabled readers represents a major step towards creating an inclusive educational environment for people with disabilities.

Key tips

Fill in the document properties tab
  • Open the properties tab (located under the file menu).
  • Include the title of the document subject and author.
  • Screen readers rely on this information to know what language they should read the document in. It is also beneficial to get your document found more easily if it is posted online.
Pay attention to readability
  • Ensure that titles and the text of links are as clear and exact as possible. The most important words should reflect the idea and be the most common among those with similar meanings.
  • Specify the topic of sentences or paragraphs at the beginning .
  • Limit each paragraph to one main idea.
  • Avoid idioms, expressions and unfamiliar vocabulary (slang).
  • If familiar words with special meanings are used, explain them.
  • Avoid the passive voice.
  • Avoid complex structures in sentences.
  • In the links use concise phrases, but with enough meaning to be understood even out of context.
  • Use unjustified text, where the text is not aligned to both the left and right margins.
  • Use sufficient spacing (space and a half within paragraphs, paragraph spacing should be 1.5 times larger than line spacing).
  • Syntax and spelling must be correct (check before publishing).
Pay attention to legibility
  • Take care of spelling.
  • Choose your fonts or typefaces well.
  • Use acronyms properly.
  • Indicates language changes.
  • Do not leave extra spaces or blank lines.
  • Don't use tables to create a multiple-column layout, learn how to create text columns.
  • Ensure that colour is not the only means of conveying information and use sufficient contrast for text and background colours.
  • Create meaningful links that provide accurate information about where the user is being sent to.
Structure and modify the presentation of the document through styles
  • Create titles by modifying built-in header styles.
  • Use numbered and bulleted list styles.
  • Define the correct line spacing and spacing between paragraphs.
  • Properly justify each type of textual content.
Add graphics, images and decorative elements appropriately
  • Insert the graphic elements inline with the text.
  • Get used to adding captions.
  • Always add a useful Alternative Text (AltText). This text should be short and convey the meaning (content and function) of the image. Images that do not convey meaning can be marked as decorative.
Use tables but only to convey tabular information
  • Do not use tables to lay out content.
  • Do not use split cells, merged cells, or nested tables.
  • Mark the column headers and, if necessary, the row headers as well.
  • Correctly align the different types of table contents.
Create forms compatible with screen readers

In order for the forms to work effectively and be able to be interpreted by screen readers, keep these recommendations in mind:

  • Label the controls.
  • Title the controls.
If you need you can add multimedia elements

You can add sound files or videos to your document taking into account the following:

  • Ensure sufficient sound contrast.
  • Add useful alternative text.
  • Provide subtitles.
  • Provide audio-description.
  • Provide transcription.
Use the accessibility checker before sharing the document
  • Check accessibility while you work in Word.
  • Review and fix accessibility issues.