Creating Accessible Word Documents

Word documents are frequently uploaded to online courses as syllabi, course schedules, assignment instructions, bibliographies and other handouts.  In this module, you’ll learn about ways of formatting your Microsoft Word files that will enhance accessibility.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. create a document title and concise, meaningful file name
  2. assign your document language/s and set a proofing language on portions of text that are in a different language from the default
  3. analyze color contrast between foreground text and background and modify to create contrast that passes WCAG 2.0 Level AA
  4. convey important text in a way that does not use color alone to convey importance or meaning
  5. select fonts, font-sizes, and colors that promote readability and legibility on screen
  6. apply and modify Word Styles to format headings and other text
  7. apply heading levels in a logical, hierarchical order
  8. add good alternative text descriptions for non-text elements, such as images
  9. create simple table structures with a header row, column header and description if needed
  10. use custom call-out styles to avoid the use of floating objects such as text boxes and single cell tables for formatting
  11. write descriptive hyperlink text
  12. format without using extra paragraph returns and blank characters
  13. Analyze Word document accessibility by utilizing Word’s built in Accessibility Checker

Instructions for Formatting for Accessibility in Word on Various Operating Systems

* Most of the tutorials in this module will show how to format for accessibility using the desktop installation for Word on Windows.
If you are using the online or web based version of Word, Microsoft has instructions for formatting for accessibility in Word on the Web (visit: There are also instructions for people using Word on macOS, iOS and Android operating systems.


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