Word has built in styles for titles, headings, bullets and numbers, which act to create a structured document.
Advantages of using standardised headings include:
To change a heading, right click against it from the menu bar at the top and then select ‘modify’.
You will then be able to change the properties for that heading as shown in the screenshot below by adjusting the font, text size, colour and other formatting.
As a general rule of thumb, the following practices are recommended:
Lists has its own style setting, when setting up a list with bullet points Word will automatically change the style formatting to that of the ‘lists’ style.
To select the ‘lists’ style manually you may need to scroll down to additional style options:
When setting up hyperlinks the following principles apply:
To insert a hyperlink, highlight the text you want linked and then right click on it to select ‘hyperlink’, or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+K.
Then insert the web address you wish the link to go to.
Adding ALT text to an image provides a written description which can be read aloud to somebody with low vision who makes use of a screen reader.
To add ALT text in Word, right click on the image and select ‘format picture’ from the bottom of the list of options.
This will bring up a menu bar to the right of screen. The third of the four icons which will display ('Format Picture') provides the option of adding ALT text.
ALT text descriptions typically should be brief and not exceed 125 characters where a description of an image is concerned.
A useful training resource for anyone wanting to know more about how to write appropriate ALT text descriptions is the Poet training tool. The guidance provided by the Poet training tool includes specific guidance around mathematical graphs and more technical diagrams.
Provided you are using standardised headings then the tab / reading order of your document should naturally be set around this.
To manually check the reading or tab order for your document in Word, select ‘layout’ from the top level menu bar and then ‘Selection Pane’. On the left of screen will then display the Headings which have been established. Additional Headings and Subheadings can be added and the order of Headings can be moved around from here.
Try not to use tables solely for layout purposes as this information will not be clearly conveyed to someone reliant on a screen reader.
Screen readers will naturally read content one row at a time from left to right.
To therefore make this content comprehendible to a screen reader ensure that you provide headings in the top row and not in a column down the side.
By making the top row a designated header row you can improve the accessibility of the table, some screen readers will read out the row name before reading out the data in each individual cell. It is also advisable to provide ALT text for tables giving a concise overview of the information they contain.
For more guidance on this topic please see this Microsoft tutorial video.
Microsoft offers an automated accessibility checker which can be used to evaluate the document and identify any issues which may need to be rectified.
To run the accessibility check select ‘File’ in the top left of screen and then ‘check for issues’, ‘check accessibility’.
For more on how to utilise and interpret this functionality please see the accessibility checker guidance document adapted from JISC guidelines.