Tips for Creating Accessible Digital Content

Use these quick tips to help make your digital content more accessible for all!

Note: These instructions are for Windows users. See the links in sections to find methods for Mac. There are typically multiple methods for doing things in these programs that are dependent on the version of the product you are using.

Reviewing Accessibility in Microsoft Documents

Go to “Review” and then “Check Accessibility” in the menu bar. This will run a check on the entire document and make recommendations for improving accessibility, item by item

screenshot that shows the 'check accessibility' icon in the microsoft Word toolbar

Alternatively, go to “File” and select “Check for Issues” and then “Check Accessibility”

Headings and Structure

  • Use left-justified paragraph text and not fully justified for blocks of text
  • Avoid italicizing blocks of text
  • Use only one heading style per document
  • Use bullets/numbering for lists
  • Use the “Heading” feature under “Styles” in Microsoft (under the “Home” tab)
  • Use the hierarchy of headings to structure the document (e.g., Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.): in the “Home” area of the menu bar, use the heading/titles bar:

screenshot that shows the headings in the styles panel with an example of hierarchy headings below

Find more information about accessibility on Microsoft’s Word Support page

Visual Elements

  • Break up large blocks of text by using headings, subheadings, lists, etc.
    screenshot of microsoft themes in the Design tab of the office suite
  • Use something other than just color to signify meaning, such as bold or italics
    Note that some screen readers will mistake underlined text for hyperlinks
  • Do not use ALL CAPS for blocks of text
  • Use real text instead of an image of text
  • Do not vary font type within a document—use one font only
  • Use a basic, readable font such as Times New Roman or Calibri
  • Use a minimum of 12-point font size for documents
  • Use a minimum of 24-point font size in PowerPoints
  • Use real tables with real text instead of images of tables
  • Do not use more than two font sizes in a document when possible
  • Do not use blinking or moving text
  • Use between 60 to 100 characters per line. To find the word count in a line, highlight the line’s text (by dragging the mouse over it), then go to “Review” in the menu tab and select “Word Count”
    screenshot of wordcount dialogue in ms office
  • Use color contrast, ensuring text color contrasts sharply with the background
    examples of good and bad color contrast
  • A light background with dark text is usually considered the most accessible
  • Red and green are considered the least accessible colors

Use Alt Text for Images/Photos

  • Provide brief, meaningful text to describe images, charts, photos, etc.
  • Right-click the image and select “Edit Alt Text
    dialogue that is shown when right-clicking an image
  • Enter the appropriate alt text in the box that is shown
  • If the image is purely decorative and adds no meaning, check the box “Mark as decorative”
    alt text dialogue with checkbox labeled 'mark as decorative' circled
  • Avoid the use of wording such as “image of” or “example of”
  • Example alt text for the color contrast image above: Good color contrasts (such as yellow on blue, black on white, white on black) and bad color contrasts (such as black on red, green on red)

Use Hyperlinks Appropriately

  • Do not underline text that is not a hyperlink
  • Insert hyperlinks on the text and do not copy in the entire hyperlink itself (unless the document is for printing)
  • To insert a hyperlink:
    • Highlight the text with the mouse and then right-click the highlighted text
    • Then select “link” followed by “Insert link”
    • To insert a hyperlink address, type or copy in the hyperlink to the address bar
    • To insert an email address, select email address on the left side of the menu, and then insert mailto:emailaddress (e.g., to send to an email
    • Always click the inserted link to ensure it works before finalizing your document
      screenshot of hyperlink dialogue box

Accessible Audio/Video Elements

Read Aloud in Microsoft Office Products

  • Documents can be read aloud by selecting “Review” and then “Read Aloud” in Word or “View” and then “Read Out Loud” in PDF documents
    screenshot of office toolbar with Read Aloud icon circled



  • PowerPoint for Windows enables the use of captions that are stored in videos that are uploaded


To insert captions in Panopto:

  • Sign in to Panopto online
  • Select the video you want by searching for it in the search bar
  • Hover over the video and then select “Settings”
    screenshot of panopto settings dialogue
  • Select “Captions” from the left menu
    screen to add captions in panopto
  • Then upload/import captions. The video sometimes needs time to autogenerate captions and therefore captions may not be immediately available. If the option does not appear, log back in after a few hours and try to upload captions again
  • Find more videos on using Panopto online

Microsoft Stream

  • Sign in to Microsoft Stream
  • Upload the video or go to the video under “My content,” and then go to “Edit video” or “Update video details” (the pencil icon on the right):
    pencil icon in microsoft stream caption dialogue
  • Under “Options,” you can check “Autogenerate a caption file”
    video information accordion with options expanded
  • Provide an electronic transcript of audio/video elements if captions fail to work

Use/Create Accessible PDF Documents

General Tips

  • Do not use PDFs that are a scanned image
  • Create accessible PDFs from accessible word documents
  • Never use “print to PDF” when saving or printing the document
  • Do not “save as PDF” in a Word or PowerPoint document
  • Use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and not Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Standard

Editing PDF’s for Accessibility

  • To make edits to a PDF, go to the “Tools” menu and select “Edit PDF”
  • To make a PDF accessible, go to “Tools” and then “Action Wizard.” From the Actions list, click “Make Accessible” and then hit “Start.” This will walk you through tasks and instructions to improve accessibility.
  • To edit or check a PDF for accessibility, enable the “Accessibility” menu by going to “Tools” and then click “Add” under “Accessibility” to add this menu to the right side of the document
  • Use Tags to define document structure and reading order by going to “Tools” and then “Accessibility” and then “Add Tags to Document”
  • To make sure the reading order of your document is correct, go to the “Tools” menu and select “Accessibility” and then “Reading Order.” Alternatively, go to “Edit” and then “Accessibility” and then “Change Reading Options.” The items are assigned numbers, which indicate in which order they would be read. If the order is incorrect, rearrange them
  • Use “Full Check” to get a report identifying accessibility issues. This is found in the “Accessibility” menu you opened on the right side of the document. Select “Full Check” followed by “Create accessibility report.” This will generate a report in the “Navigation Pane” on the left side of the document. Go through any identified issues (shown in bold) to fix them. For information on the issue, right click the issue and select “Explain”
  • If you need something read that is not listed here (for example, headers and footers are automatically excluded), tag it by highlighting the text (click the pencil icon and then drag over the text with the mouse). Then click “Text/Paragraph” in the “Reading Order” dialog box. The text should now be listed with a number in the “Reading Order” menu. Assign it to the correct location for reading

Find more information about accessibility on Acrobat’s website

Use/Create Accessible PowerPoint Slideshows

Give every slide a title, whether shown in the slide or hidden:

  • Use Outline Viewtoolbar in powerpoint with outline view icon highlighted
  • Then title slides by selecting the slide number on the left side of the screen and inserting titles for each slide by each slide number
    slide title dialogue box
  • If needed, hide the slide title by typing it in the Title Placeholder of the slide and then dragging it outside of the slide boundary (see circled title below)
    powerpoint slide with title circled

Verify and use the correct reading order for slide contents

  • Go to “Select” under the “Home” menu and choose “Selection Pane”
    powerpoint dialogue with selection pane circled

Find more information about accessibility in PowerPoint on Microsoft’s support page

Use/Create Accessible Charts and Tables

  • Do not draw a chart or table but use the insert chart/table options instead to maintain correct structure
  • Use the “Layout” menu tab to insert columns
    office toolbar with columns icon circled
  • Use the “Insert” menu tab to insert tables and charts
    office toolbar with table icon circled
  • Ensure meaning is conveyed by more than just color (such as with bold, italics, patterns)