Accessibility Checklist for MS Word

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Use this checklist to guide you toward creating accessible MS Word documents.  Start with practices that you find quick and easy, then build from there. 

Small changes can have a big impact


◻   Describe the contents of the document clearly in the file name
◻   Add the document title to the Title field under Document Properties (i.e. Title, Author)
◻   Accept, decline, and turn Track Changes off after final changes have been made


◻   Use text that is at least 12-point font
◻   Use a sans serif font (Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, or Verdana)
◻   Number pages using the built-in page numbering function
◻   Create lists using the built-in bullet or numbering function, not typed characters or hyphens
◻   Use style elements to organize and structure the document (Heading 1, Heading 2)
◻   Use the paragraph formatting function to add space between paragraphs or sections instead of
       using hard returns
◻   Indicate the content of the destination link in the Hyperlink text; do not use "click here"
◻   Do not use colour as the only way to differentiate or emphasize information

Images and other visual elements (figures, graphs, graphics, etc.)

◻   Remove background images and watermarks
◻   Include meaningful Alternative Text (i.e. a built-in function in Word where the author can provide
       a short description of the nature and content of each visual) for each visual
◻   Use the Border tool, instead of line shapes or textboxes, to draw attention to a section of text
◻   Label decorative images as "decorative" in the Alternative Text
◻   Ensure sufficient colour contrast between the background and text and images using the
       Colour Contrast Analyser 
◻   Describe complex images (i.e. graphs) in a caption near the image


◻  Use Tables for tabular data only - not for layout purposes 
◻  Create tables using Insert Table, as opposed to using tabs and spaces to create the look of a table
◻  Create tables that have a logical reading order: left to right, top to bottom
◻  Do not leave any blank (empty) rows or columns in the table
◻  Do not merge table cells
◻  In Table Properties, uncheck the Allow Row To Break Across Pages option
◻  Specify header rows and columns using Table Style Options
◻  Repeat table headers at the top of each page
◻  Include a Table Caption that describes the content/purpose of the table


If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help.  View the CTE Support page to find the most relevant staff member to contact. 


teaching tips

 This Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Accessibility Checklist for MS Word. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.