This guide will help you to create an accessible word document.
Please use sentence case rather than capital letters for headers, include alternative text for our logo (e.g University of Reading), and use spacing to make the text easier to read.

Following this guide will support our Policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching & Learning, launched in January 2018 and the new accessibility regulations. The Policy provides clarity and emphasis to our commitment to an inclusive approach, as set out in the Curriculum Framework and Teaching & Learning Strategy. The launch of the Policy was supported by a range of resources to support colleagues to create accessible teaching and learning materials.

How to do it?

Accessibility Checker

To check the accessibility of your Word document, you can use the built-in Microsoft’s accessibility checker. This will help you test the accessibility of your document. The checker provides Inspection Results, feedback about the importance of each item, and tips on how to repair issues.
Go to the Review menu and select Check Accessibility.
More information related to MS Office accessibility checker is available on Microsoft Office Support pages.

Styles and Headings

Using Microsoft Word’s styles, or pre-defined styles of your template
Select styles from the Styles group of the Home tab. The list of different styles will let you format documents consistently.
If you’ve never used styles before, search Word’s help system for a brief explanation.

Bullet points and numbered lists

Try not to use more than 2 levels of bullet points
• Instead of using special styles to generate bullets, use the ‘normal’, but modify it with the bullet and numbered bullet buttons in the paragraph section of the ‘Home’ tab

An example of a numbered list

  1. This is a numbered list
  2. You can mix numbered and non-numbered lists
    • Like this
    • Or this


Include meaningful hyperlinks in your Word document. Each hyperlink in your text should convey relevant information about the destination of the link.

Images and Alternative Text

Images can add context, clarity, and meaning to a document, as well as enhance the accessibility of your document. It is essential that you add alt text to each image, chart, graph, or other non-text elements in your document. If you miss alt text, screen reader users will hear the word “image” but not know what the image is. However, if your image has no meaning, the image menu would give you an option to mark the image as a decorative.

Document Language

Make sure that your document is using the correct language. This can be changed via Tools and submenu Language.


It is important to make sure all tables are accessible to those using screen readers. This helps screen reader users to make sense of the data contained in a table. You should only use a table when it’s necessary to convey relationships between pieces of data, and not for layout purposes. When using tables in a Word document, keep them as simple as possible. If necessary, split complex tables into multiple smaller tables.

How to save an accessible word document to PDF?

Once your document passes the accessibility check in MS Word, go to the main menu, tab “File” and select “Save As”. Then select file type “PDF” from the drop-down menu. Following this step will ensure that the PDF will preserve the MS Word’s accessibility features.  Make sure, that under “More Options” the option called “Document structure tags for accessibility” is selected.

Accessibility checker for PDF documents

The accessibility checker for PDF can be found in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Please follow the official guide on Using the Acrobat Pro Accessibility Checker published by Adobe.