Accessible Document Basics

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Accessible digital content is fundamental to good communications. Inclusive, user-centred design is fundamental. The content you add and how you format it can make a huge difference to accessibility. Following this checklist will help you to create accessible, user-centred documents.

1. Use proper heading styles

Microsoft guidance on accessible headings.

2. Use selectable text

Write meaningful link text (text that links to a web address) that describes its destination. It needs to make sense when it is read out of context so embed the link in to text that describes where the link is going to take you:

Microsoft guidance on accessible links.

4. Use lists

5. Use alternative text

Add appropriate alternative text (alt text) if possible – or a full text alternative if the image conveys information not otherwise available.

Microsoft guidance on alternative text.

Make Things Accessible guide to creating meaningful alternative text.

6. Use good table structure

If your data is best presented in a table, try to keep the table simple.  Table structure matters. Don't use tables simply for layout; only use a table to display data.

Microsoft guidance on creating tables in documents.

7. Don't rely on colour alone

Don't use colour alone to convey meaning (many people are colour blind). For example different coloured lines on a line graph, or Red, Amber, Green (RAG) status boards, without accompanying text for each status, or different line patters such as using dashes.

If using text on a coloured background or image background, you need to check its colour contrast. There are online tools available to help you check colour contrast:

8. Use Sans Serif fonts

Fonts and styles can make a big difference to how accessible your information is.

9. Use plain English

Use these Plain English techniques to help you edit your draft texts and documents. Editing your text into plain English will make it clearer and more concise; this helps everyone quickly understand your message and is especially helpful to assistive technology users and those with dyslexia.

10. Check your work

Check the accessibility of your work for example using the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Office.

Further information

Microsoft Office's Accessibility Centre.

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