Microsoft Office Guidelines

All Microsoft Office documents should be created following the guidelines below to conform to the Revised 508 Standards

Microsoft Office Documents and PDF’s created from MS documents must be checked for accessibility BEFORE being uploaded to the Website. All documents must be free of errors and alerts. The preferred way is to create a page in OU Campus and publish the information as an HTML page to the website. 

If you must upload PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Excel, or any other type of binary document, please review the Check Lists below for Word and PowerPoint below with instructions on how to properly create accessible documents:

Microsoft Word Documents Check List

  1. Is the file name and document title descriptive?

    Use a descriptive file name, save it as “.docx” for Accessibility Check to work. A descriptive file name helps everyone identify the purpose of its content. Instead of “vapol.docx,” name it “vaccine-policy.docx.”
    Use a descriptive title for document, i.e., “Vaccine Policy for 2020.”

  2. Do document headings use the MS Word heading styles?

    For headings, use MS Word heading styles. Heading styles create a structure that assistive technology can quickly access and aid document navigation based on the heading levels. Don't use font size or bold type to indicate headings visually.

    Heading styles in MS Word.

  3. Are lists formatted correctly?

    Use built-in lists to format lists. Assistive technology users cannot find meaning with lists created with tabs, spaces, or dashes.

    MS Word toolbar for lists.

  4. Do images and other objects have alternative text?

    Use alternative text for images. Provide meaningful and short descriptions for all images.
    Right-click picture > Format Picture > Alt Text > Description.

    MS Word, how to add description.

  5. Are images, objects, and text boxes in line with text?

    Text boxes are not accessible unless they are in line with text. Any embedded image, text box, or any other object must be in line with text. Right-click on text box, select “wrap Text,” then “In Line with Text.”

    MS Word layout option to select 'In Line with Text.'

  6. Are layout tables formatted correctly?

    Table structure: Use simple tables, avoid splitting cells, and designate header rows.

  7. Are link names descriptive?

    Descriptive Links: Do not use “Click here,” rather use text that describes the destination link. “Register for Open House.”

  8. Did you make sure that color is not the only means of conveying information?

    Do not rely in color only to convey meaning.  Using only color will not provide access to people who are blind, have low vision, or are color blind.
    Example: Assignments in green are due on Wednesday and assignments in yellow are due on Friday.

    Demonstration how not to use only color for meaning

  9. Did you use the Accessibility Checker to check for other accessibility issues?

    Go to File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility
    Check Accessibility option in MS Word.

For more resources, visit page "Create Accessible Documents".

Microsoft PowerPoint Checklist

  1. Is the file name and document title descriptive?

    Use a descriptive file name, save it as “.pptx” for Accessibility Check to work. A descriptive file name helps everyone identify the purpose of its content. Instead of “vapol.pptx,” name it “vaccine-policy.pptx.”
    Use a descriptive title for document, i.e., “Vaccine Policy for 2020.”

  2. Do you have a logical reading order?

    Screen readers will read the slide title first, followed by the next element in the slide out. When you add more elements to a slide, keep this order in mind. Go to Home > Drawing > Arrange >Selection Pane and check the order.
    How to check the reading order in PowerPoint.

  3. Are lists formatted correctly?

    Use built-in lists to format lists. Assistive technology users cannot find meaning with lists created with tabs, spaces, or dashes.
    MS Word toolbar for lists.

  4. Do images and other objects have alternative text?

    Use alternative text for images. Provide meaningful and short descriptions for all images.
    Right-click picture > Format Picture > Alt Text > Description.
    How to add alt descriptions to images in PowerPoint.

  5. Are layout tables formatted correctly?

    Table structure: Use simple tables, avoid splitting cells, and designate header rows.
    Table tools in PowerPoint with different styles.

  6. Are link names descriptive?

    Descriptive Links: Do not use “Click here,” rather use text that describes the destination link. “Register for Open House.”

  7. Did you make sure that color is not the only means of conveying information?

    Do not rely in color only to convey meaning.  Using only color will not provide access to people who are blind, have low vision, or are color blind.
    Example: Assignments in green are due on Wednesday and assignments in yellow are due on Friday.
    Demonstration for color as not the only way for meaning.

  8. Use a larger font size (18 or larger), sans serif fonts, especially if the presentation will be viewed on a projector.
  9. Transitions and animations should be simple. Complex or automatic transitions and animations can be distracting.
  10. Use clear and simple language. If you have embedded video, ensure the video is captioned.
  11. If you have embedded audio, include a transcript.
  12. Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.
  13. Did you use the Accessibility Checker to check for other accessibility issues?

    Go to File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility
    Check Accessibility option in MS Word.

For more resources, visit:

Saving a Microsoft Office Document as a PDF

After checking and fixing a Microsoft Office document for accessibility and decide to convert it to a PDF to upload it to the website, another Accessibility check must be done in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

How to check and fix PDF documents for Accessibility compliance in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Other Useful Resources for Microsoft Office

Cheatsheets from the National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE)

Accessibility Resources for MS Documents