Creating Accessible PDFs From InDesign


Common core

  • Creating Accessible InDesign document
  • Accessible InDesign to PDF
  • Checking and correcting PDF accessibility

External links

to download


  • Creating an accessible InDesign document
  • Verifying and modifying accessibility in Microsoft Word
  • Configuring PDF Maker
Writing accessible text

Accessibility must be considered from the creation of your message. The accessible writing workshop addresses the basics of accessibility to help you design an accessible message.

Integrating accessibility

Much of the work required to create a PDF from InDesign in an accessible format has to done when the document is created in InDesign, not at the time of its conversion to PDF.

Defining the metadata

Metadata includes information on the document such as:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Subject
  • Document keywords
  • The language of the document

These properties are retained when the document is published in another format.

Enable editing of multiple languages

Please refer to Creating Accessible PDF Forms trainings

Paragraph Formatting
  1. On the Type tab (1),
  2. In the Paragraph styles (2),
  3. Double click on the style you apply(3).
  4. Select the appropriate alignment, outline level and line spacing.

Paragraph Formatting
Quick style sets
Tagging Text

In order to specify a reading order in InDesign you must create Tags for your text

  1. Go on the Window tab
  2. Choose Utilities
  3. Then choose Tags
  4. You can re-use existing tag or create new tag

Tagging Text
Applying Tags to Text

Once you have created a set of tags you can apply them to your document


  • As seen in “Creating Tags” you can assign tags automatically using Add Untagged Items
  • If you later add a paragraph you can tag it using the Selection Tool then Story or Figure tag in Tags Panel
  • You can also tag styles quickly by using Map Styles to Tags from Tags Panel menu




Applying Tags to Text



Applying Tags to Tables

Documents containing tables may require several extra steps:

  • When you choose Map Styles to Tags InDesign will tag text inside each cell along with the rest of the document.
  • InDesign will also add two tags to the tag panel; Table & Cell
  • It then applies these tags to each table and cell in the document.

Applying Tags to Lists
  • InDesign exports all list items as regular paragraphs, even if they were tagged as L or L1 in tag panel.
  • There fore you will need to fix list items using PDF.
  • Yet you must insure that listed items are assigned the paragraph tag in InDesign.
Applying Tags to Graphics:
  • Alt-text is extremely important for accessibility of figures
  • As seen in “Creating Tags” you can assign tags automatically using Add Untagged Items
  • Figure tag will be generated for the image

Applying Tags to Graphics
Applying Tags to Artifacts:
  • Background images, headers, footers, page numbers, and non-essential information should be tagged with Artifact tag so they can be ignored by screen reader
  • To define an object an Artifact, click on it with the Selection or Direct Selection tool.
  • Then select Artifact in the Tag panel

Applying Tags to Graphics


  1. Bookmarks can be created using the bookmarks panel
  2. Or it can be created using the Table of contents from Layout tab


Insert Hyperlink or a linked document into a document
  1. You can create Hyperlinks by going to Type
  2. Then select Hyperlinks & Cross Reference

Insert Hyperlink or a linked document into a document

Save your InDesign document

Save your InDesign document
Why save as PDF (Portable Document Format)?
  • Set security measures (password and modifying your document);
  • Compress a large file (facilitates transmission and downloading);
  • Preserve the look and feel of the file when transferred to another computer with different applications.
Tools & resources

To know more about creating accessible Word documents

Accessibility Checks

It is good to run an accessibility check on Adobe Acrobat

  1. Save the document
  2. Choose Advanced -> Accessibility -> Full Check
  3. After running the report, Acrobat will display report results on the right in the Accessibility panel
  4. If errors were found, Acrobat will suggest how to fix the problem.
Suggested follow-up workshops
Accessibility Compliance Coordinator
Tel: 613-562-5800 ext 7452

Needs assessments
Made-to-measure tools
Additional support
Extension: 6555
Tools, templates and resources
Accessibility training: Introduction
How to create an accessible campaign
How to interact with accessibility in mind
How to create accessible web content
Find an expert

Marie-Claude Gagnon, Web Accessibility Compliance Coordinator

613-562-5800 extension 7452

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