Creating Accessible PDFs From InDesign


Common core

  • Accessible writing
  • Accessible Word 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
Creating an Accessible InDesign document
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.

Document properties (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 training

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 options

Paragraph formatting
Quick style sets

Quick Style sets allow the use of templates with shortcuts placed on the Word ribbon.

They help to quickly create the following styles:

  • Titles and subtitles (Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 ...)
  • Paragraphs
  • Blockquote
  • Accentuation of a part of a text or a word

InDesign does not have a quick style set through which you can create headers.

To create headers and structures you must do that through Tags.



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


Table of content
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
Save your InDesign document

Saving a 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.


  1. Convert the InDesign document to a PDF format:
  2. Go to File
  3. Then select Export
  4. From the Format pop-up choose Adobe PDF


    Exporting a PDF
  5. After clicking save, the Export Adobe PDF dialogue box appears, offering a number of options for creating a PDF file.
  6. Accessible files need to be saved in compatibility set to Acrobat 5 or later
  7. Make sure that the following checkboxes are selected: Create Tagged PDF, Optimize for fast web view, Bookmarks, Hyperlinks, and interactive elements.
  8. Also select View PDF after exporting so that the file will open in Adobe Acrobat.


Exporting a PDF

Define PDF document:

  1. Select Create bookmarks using: (1)
  2. Make sure the Headings option is selected (2)
  3. Make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility option is selected (3)
  4. Select the option ISO 19005-1 compliant (PDF/A) (4)
  5. Click OK.


define pdf document

Working in Adobe PDF:

After opening your file in Acrobat, you will need to change a few things before file is considered accessible:

  1. Assign document language, by choosing File, then Properties, and clicking the Advanced tab and choose from the language menu
  2. Remapping tags, when you export a tagged PDF file from InDesign, paragraph styles become tag names in PDF. You can view these tags from View >Navagation panel >Tags
  3. Document order, although the reading order was already defined in the structure pane using InDesign
  4. Remapping tags, when you export a tagged PDF file from InDesign, paragraph styles become tag names in PDF. You can view these tags from View >Navagation panel >Tags
Tools & resources

To know more about creating accessible Word documents

Read Creating accessible PDF documents with Adobe InDesign CS4
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
Web accessibility compliance coordinator
613-562-5800 (7452)
  • Accessibility help clinics
  • Needs assessments
  • Made-to-measure tools
  • Referrals
  • Other support
Computing and Communications Service
uOttawa computing assistance request form
Extension 6555
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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