How to Create Accessible Word Documents

Microsoft Word icon

These helpful tips on creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word come from the Disabled Students' Program

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See How to Create Accessible PDF Documents for tips on accessible PDFs.

Tips for Creating Accessible Word Documents

  1. Run the accessibility checker
  2. Use heading styles
  3. Use alternative text for images
  4. Use table headers
  5. Use the color contrast analyser

1. Run the accessibility checker

The MS Word Accessibility Checker will check the document for common accessibility issues. The Accessibility Checker provides suggestions about how to fix any issues found in your document.

MS Word Accessibility Checker

2. Use heading styles

Heading styles make it easier for assistive technology (AT) users to navigate your documents. Each heading style represents a different level in the content hierarchy and communicates the structure of your document to AT users.

Apply MS Word Heading Styles:

3. Use alternative text for images

Alternative text is a short description of an image in your document. The “alt-text” will be read by users of assistive technology who would not otherwise know the content of the image.

Add MS Word Alternative Text:

4. Use table headers

A table header allows users of assistive technology to understand the relationships between cells in your table. An AT user will hear the header cell before the data cell, and thus understand to which column the data refers.

Use MS Word Table Headers:

5. Use the color contrast analyser 

Sufficient color contrast makes text more accessible to individuals with color blindness. Ensure that the contrast ratio between the foreground and background colors meets the contrast requirements of WCAG 2.0.

Color Contrast Analyser