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Formatting Lists (Word and PowerPoint)

Lists in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint documents need structural list tags to allow screen reader users to easily navigate.


  • Guideline 1.3: Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure
    • 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A)
      Semantic markup is used to designate headings (<h1>), lists (<ul>, <ol>, and <dl>), emphasized or special text (<strong>, <code>, <abbr>, <blockquote>, for example), etc. Semantic markup is used appropriately.

Example of Standard in Action

Format lists in Word documents using the Bullets or Numbering list style so the items can be understood in context.

  • Highlight the text to make into a list
  • Choose the Format < Bullets and Numbering menu item
  • Select the desired format

Formatting Lists

Example of Issue

When encountering consecutive list of items on a page, sighted users can see the relationship between these items. Without the use of structural list tags, screen reader and other assistive technology users will not be able to detect the difference between regular paragraph text and a list of items.

 Locating the Issue in Your Course

You will want to look through your course for each instance of a Word or PowerPoint document. You can click through each page in your course to look for these documents, or use the file management tools within your LMS.

In order to test whether your Word or PowerPoint documents have structured lists

  • Open the Word or PowerPoint document
  • Select a list of items on a page
  • Select Format > Bullets and Numbering … menu item
  • Confirm that a structured list style has been chosen.

Resources to Align With Standard

  • WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) provides web accessibility solutions to individuals with disabilities. Links provided will give you information about the different types of visual impairments, such as blindness, colorblindness and low vision and how to make the web more accessible to users with visual disabilities.

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