As you create word-processing documents or text files, use the following common practices to help ensure accessibility and usability for everyone.
Descriptive File Name
- Provide a descriptive document file name and title (Indiana University)
- Microsoft video on creating accessibility file names
Clear and Concise Content
- Write in plain language, avoiding jargon.
Headings and Structure
Headings help users quickly understand the information hierarchy to identify main points and topics. Heading styles also allow screen reader users to navigate content more efficiently by jumping to different sections and accessing desired information quickly. Clear and descriptive headings also help with comprehension and reduce cognitive load by breaking the text into manageable sections, making scanning and locating specific information more accessible.
- Use heading styles to show content organization.
- Give a descriptive title.
- Use properly formatted lists.
Accessible Link Text
- Link text should make the destination of the link clear.
- Avoid phrases like “click here,” “learn more,” and “read more.”
- Always underline links for quick identification.
- Do not underline non-link text.
- Visit WebAIM’s article on Link Text and Appearance to learn more.
- Watch a Microsoft video on creating accessible links in Word.
Color and Contrast
- Ensure the contrast ratio between text and background colors is at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.
- Do not use color as the only method to convey meaning.
- Include an additional descriptive component such as text, patterns, or shapes.
- Learn more about Contrast and Color Accessibility (WebAIM).
- Provide alt text for images and non-text objects that have meaning.
- Keep the alt text short and descriptive.
- Mark images and objects as decorative that don’t add information to the content.
- Avoid using images with text when possible.
- Writing effective alt text (Microsoft)
- Learn how to write alt text and image descriptions for the visually impaired (Perkins School for the Blind)
- How to add alt text to images and objects in Office video (Microsoft)
- Alternative (Alt) Text Guide by The Ohio State University
- Use a simple table structure.
- Avoid merging or splitting cells and using nested tables when possible.
- Break up a complex table into multiple tables.
- Add a header row to your data table.
- Do not use tables for page layout.
- Create accessible tables in Microsoft Word.
Check for Accessibility
As you design, develop, or create digital content, it is important to check the accessibility. For a list of commonly used checkers, guides, and checklists, visit the Check for Accessibility page.