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
- 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.
- Avoid gold on white: Accessible Text & Color.
- Visit the Check Accessibility webpage for a list of contrast checkers.
- 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.
- The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative states, “Whether to treat an image as decorative or informative is a judgment only the author can make, based on the reason for including the image on the page.”
- 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.