Word accessibility for MAC


Common core

  • Accessible writing
  • Accessible Word to PDF
  • Checking and correcting PDF accessibility

External links

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A. Creating an accessible Microsoft Word 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.

Document properties

Document properties (metadata)

Metada includes information on the document such as:

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

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

Defining the metadata
  1. In the File tab (1), select Properties (2).

    File properties tab
  2. On the Summary tab (3) in the properties window, fill out the title and the other necessary properties.

    Document properties dialogue box
Defining the primary language of a document
  1. In the Tools tab (1) select Language (2).

    Language tab
  2. In the dialog box under Marked selected text as (3), select your document language from the list and choose your default language (4).
  3. Click OK (5).

    Language dialog box
Set the language for a section of text
  • If the corresponding editing language is enabled, Word is able to automatically detect the language for a section of the text.
Enable editing of multiple languages
  1. Selec the text you wish to change the language for.
  2. In the Tools tab (1), select Language (2).
  3. In the dialogue box under Mark selected text as: select the language from the list.
  4. Click OK.


Paragraph formatting
  1. On the Format tab (1), click on Paragraph (2).

    Format paragraph tab
  2. In the Paragraph window, select the appropriate alignment, outline level, and line spacing.

    Paragraph dialogue box


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 style:

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

    Styles group
Activate Quick Style sets

After placing the cursor on the desired paragraph or text:

  1. On the Home tab under style. push the arrow (1) to see all styles.
  2. Select the desired style.
  3. You can also change the styles in the dialog box with the Change Styles option (3).


    Style dialogue box
Titles and subtitles
  1. Use the quick styles for the structure of your document.
  2. Heading 1 is the primary title of the document. There should be only one Heanding 1 in the document.
  3. Continue with Heading 2, Heading 3 etc. in the corresponding order. Do not skip a heading level.

  • Example of proper order:

Heading 1 (title)


Heading 2 (subtitle)

Heading 3 (lower level subtitle)


Heading 3 (lower level subtitle)


Heading 2 (subtitle)

Heading 3 (lower level subtitle)





Create bulleted or numbered lists
  1. On the Home Tab, under Paragraph.
  2. Choose the Bullets icon dor unordered lists (A).
  3. Choose the Numbering icon for ordered lists (A).
  4. Use the automatic creation as you type by pressing the ENTER key to add the following to the list.
  5. Complete the list by hitting BACKSPACE twice to delete the last bullet and the last number in the list.

Create sublists:

  1. Use the TAB key or the TAB icons button (B).
  2. Create list styles by clicking the small arrow to the right of the icons.
  3. Use the sequence SHIFT + TAB to return to the level above.

    Paragraph tab


Footnotes vs. Endnotes


  • Used to provide detailed comments.
  • Placed at the end of each page.
  • Comprised of two related parts:the mark appeal and the text corresponding footnote.
  • Lets you navigate between text and notes.
  • Preserved when the document is converted to other formats.


  • Are used to cite sources.
  • Placed at the end of the document.
  • Comprised of two related parts: the mark appeal and the text of the corresponding note.
  • Lets you navigate between text and notes.
  • Preserved when the document is converted to other formats.

  1. Select the area where the footnote should be inserted.
  2. Click Insert Footnote.


    Insert footnote tab


Changing the format of notes

  1. Click Options.


    Footnote and endnote dialogue box


Personalize your notes

  1. Click on Convert.
  2. Select the options you want.
  3. Click OK.


    Note options dialogue box


Create a SmartArt graphic
  1. On the SmartArt tab (1).
  2. Go to the Insert SmartArt Graphic group (2).
  3. Select the desired layout (3 & 4).
  4. Click OK.


    Smartart tab
Editing a SmartArt graphic
  1. Click on the SmartArt graphic you wish to edit.
  2. On the left side of the SmartArt graphic, click (1). This will open the text pane.
  3. To add or delete a shape (2).
  4. To move a shape in various directions (3).

    Edit SmartArt graphic dialog box

Adding alternate text to SmartArt or images
  1. Select the graphic that needs to be described.
  2. Right-click on it.
  3. Select Format Picture.

In the dialogue box (1):

  1. Select the Alt Text tab (2)
  2. Write your title in the Title box (3)
  3. Write your description in the Description box (4)
  4. Click OK (5).

    Format picture dialogue box
Avoid floating descriptive images
  • Descriptive images that are not in line with text are challenging to navigate, and they may be inaccessible to users with vision imparment. Setting text-wrapping around objects to Top and Bottom or In Line With Text makes it easier for people with screen readers to follow the structure of your document.
Change the text-wrapping around objects
  1. Select the object.
  2. Click Format tab, and then under Arrange, click Wrap Text.
  3. Select either In Line With Text or Top and Bottom from the list.


    Format tab arrange tool
Send decorative image to background

Option 1:

  1. Select the object and click wrap text under the Arrange tab.
  2. Choose Wrap Text, and then select anything but In Line With Text from the list.
  3. Select the object, and right-click again.
  4. Choose Send to back, and then select again Send to back from the list.


Option 2:

  1. In the Word tab choose Preferences.
  2. In the Word Preferences dialogue box, select Edit.
  3. In the Editing options section, go to Insert/Paste picture as:
  4. Choose anything butIn Line Line With Text from the list.
Create a summary and caption
  1. Select the illustration that the caption is going to be associated with.
  2. On the Insert tab (1), click Insert caption (2).
  3. In the Caption dialog box, specify the caption text in the text box under Caption (3).
  4. Check that the label type is Figure and the position is Below selected item (4).
  5. Click OK to insert the caption (5).

    Caption dialogue box


Write a mathematical formula
  1. Click the place where the mathematical formula should be written.
  2. On the Document Elements tab (1), click the dialog box launcher under the Equation icon (2).
  3. A new ribbon for writing mathematical formulas will appear (see example below).
  4. Type an equation in the newly created object.
  5. Insert a caption following the same steps as those described in the previous section with the only difference being that the label type is Equation.

    Equation toolbar


Create a data table
  1. Go to Tables (1) section of the menu
  2. Under Table Options select New (2).
  3. Select the number of rows and columns (3).
  4. Click OK.

    Tables tab
Label the rows and columns of a table
  • It is not possible to create header rows or columns on Word.
  • You can specify the row headers through the Repeat Header Rows option. Word will automatically repeat the title of a long table on each new page for a consecutive automatic page break only (it is important not to use the CTL + Return buttons to create an effect of page break, but to use the automatic page break).
Repeat the headers of a table
  1. Right click inside the first row of the table and choose Table Properties.
  2. Click the Row tab. Select Repeat as header row at the top of each page.
  3. Click OK.


    Table properties dialogue box
Prevent the cutting of rows in a table
  1. Right click inside the first row of the table and choose Table Properties.
  2. Click the Row tab. Uncheck Allow row to break across pages.
  3. Click OK.

    Table properties dialogue box
Set the margins of a cell
  1. Select the cell in your table.
  2. Right click inside the first row of the table and choose Table Properties (1).
  3. In the dialog box, select the Cell tab (2).
  4. Click the Options button and, in the new Cell Options dialogue box (3), set the margins of your cells (4).
  5. Click the OK button (5) to confirm and click the OK button again to exit the Properties dialog box.

    Table properties dialogue box
Insert a table caption
  1. Click inside the table in question.
  2. On the Insert tab (1), click Insert caption (2).
  3. In the Caption dialog box, specify the caption text in the text box under Caption. (3)
  4. Check that the label type is Table and the position is Above selected item (4).
  5. Click OK to insert the caption. (5).


    Caption dialogue box


  1. Select the text that will contain the bookmark.
  2. Under the Insert tab (1), click on the Bookmark function (2), which provides access to the Bookmark dialogue box (3)
  3. Enter the bookmark name (4)
  4. Then click Add (5)

Bookmark names can not include spaces or dashes.


Bookmark dialogue box
Insert Hyperlink or a linked document into a document
  1. Enter and select the text that will represent the link (URL).
  2. Under the Insert tab (1), in the click on the Hyperlink function (2), which provides access to the Insert Hyperlink dialogue box (3).
  3. In the Link to: section (4) of the dialog box, select the source of your link: Existing File or Web Page (5), Place in this Document (6), or E-mail Address (7).
  4. Write the URL in the Address box (8) or;
  5. Make sure that the ScreenTip (or ToolTip) is left empty.
  6. Click the OK button (9).

    Insert hyperlink dialogue box
  1. Position the cursor where the reference should be inserted.
  2. Under the Insert tab, click Cross-Reference.
  3. In the Cross-Reference dialog box (1), select the desired reference in Reference type (2) and where to insert the reference (3).
  4. Click on the Insert button (4)

    Cross-reference dialogue box
Display document navigation
  1. On the View tab (1) select Navigation Pane (2).
  2. On the pop-up menu, click Document Map (3).
  3. Select View, Navigation Pane once done (4).

    Navigation pane
Create a quotation
  1. Click at the place where the citation is to be inserted.
  2. On the Document Elements tab (1) in the Citations & References group (2) click Manage (3).
  3. If the citation refers to a source that is not yet present in the list of sources:
    1. Choose Add a new source (4)
    2. Type the information in the Edit Source dialogue box (5 & 6)

  • If the citation refers to a source that is already in the list of already active sources:
    1. Click on the source
  • To specify additional information like page numbers vis-à-vis the quote:
    1. Select the quote, right-click on the selection and click Edit quote or
    2. Specify the page numbers for the citation in question and click OK (7).

      Edit source dialogue box
Insert Table of Contents
  • Place the cursor where you want the table of contents to be inserted.
  1. On the Insert tab, click on the Index and Tables.
  2. Click on Table of Contents.
  3. Choose one of the Automatic Table options to automatically create a table of contents based on your headings.
  • Update a table of Contents
  1. Click anywhere in the table of contents so that it appears shaded
  2. Right-click and select Update Field from the pop-up menu.
  3. You will be prompted to update the page numbers only or the entire table.


    Insert index and tables tab
    Table of contents dialogue box
Insert a bibliography
  1. Position the cursor at the location where to insert a bibliography, usually at the end of the document.
  2. On the References tab (2), click on Bibliography (3).
  3. Select a predefined bibliography format to insert the bibliography in the document.
  4. Your quotes will appear automatically.

    Document elements tab
Save your Word document

Important! Save your Word document in .docx to check your Word document.

Save as dialogue box
B. Verifying and modifying accessibility in Microsoft Word
C. Tools and Resources

To know more about creating accessible Word documents

  • Read Creating accessible Word documents
  • Look at the online video tutorial "Creating accessible documents with MS Word 2010", available on the Accessibility website under the section Interactive: Creating accessible documents. (For better results, use Internet Explorer to vire the video.)
D. Contacts

Marie-Claude Gagnon

Accessibility Compliance Coordinator

Human Rights Office

1 Stewart Road, Office 113

Ottawa ON  K1N 6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 7452


  • Drop-in help for groups

  • Needs assessment
  • Made-to-measure tools
  • Referrals
  • Additional support
  • Standards, legislation, regulations
  • Workshops
  • Drop-in help
  • Tools, templates and resources
  • Events
What are my legal obligations?

Understanding the law

  • Accessibility laws
  • Duty to accommodate
  • FAQ
  • uOttawa Accessibility Policy 119
  • Request advice


How to interact with accessibility in mind
Rent accessible goods & services

Sign language interpretation


Wheelchair ramp

Accessible venues

Find an expert

Marie-Claude Gagnon, Web Accessibility Compliance Coordinator

613-562-5800 extension 7452

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