Have you ever created a Word document and later learned people couldn’t read it because it wasn’t accessible? How frustrating, both for others and for you.
Next time, try these simple tips that will make it easier for everyone to access and understand your information.
Use headers to form an outline that helps your reader easily understand how your document is organized and quickly find information.
Microsoft Word’s built-in styles are designed to be “read” by screen readers. It makes your document accessible to those with visual limitations. If you save your Word document as a pdf, your pdf would also be accessible to screen readers
Use bulleted, numbered, or multi-level lists to make it easier for your reader to quickly digest information. It also helps you quickly and consistently organize your information.
Use Short, Active Sentences
Your reader will more quickly understand your message if you use short, active sentences in everyday language.
Select an Easy-to-Read Font Style
The font you choose could make a big difference in how easily your reader absorbs your message.
10- to 12-point Sans Serif fonts are typically easier to read, both in print and on a computer screen, for those with reading difficulties or a visual impairment.
Use Meaningful Hyperlinks
Create meaningful hyperlinks in your Word document that include information about the destination of the link.
Choose Contrast and Colors Carefully
Use a dark font color on a subtly-colored background. A black font on a white background may be difficult for some to read, even though it gives the highest contrast possible.
Use colors other than red or green for emphasis. People with colorblindness often do not see red or green and would miss your emphasis.
Create White Space
Sometimes less is more. Good use of white space –- space left empty — creates manageable chunks of information.
Describe Photos and Graphics
Use alternative text, or “alt tags”, to describe all important photographs and graphics. This will make your document accessible to those who use screen readers.
Check out these resources to learn more about why accessibility is so important, and how to create accessible documents:
Create Accessible Documents
Why Bother with Accessibility?
Laura Kalbag does a very good job of explaining why we should take the time to make our materials accessible.
Making Your Word Documents Accessible