For training that enhances your effectiveness and inspires your students.

Formatting Text (Word and PowerPoint)

Text in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint documents need structural tags including headers and list tags to allow screen reader users to easily navigate and decode chunks of information.


  • Guideline 2.4: Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are:
    • 2.4.6 Headings and Labels (Level AA)
      Page headings and labels for form and interactive controls are informative. Avoid duplicating heading (e.g., “More Details”) or label text (e.g., “First Name”) unless the structure provides adequate differentiation between them.
    • 2.4.10 Section Headings (Level AAA)
      Beyond providing an overall document structure, individual sections of content are designated using headings, where appropriate.

Example of Standard in Action

Format sections of text in Word documents using the appropriate header styles so that the page is hierarchically structured. The main sections will use Heading 1, Heading 2 Styles with subsections using the larger numbered Heading styles.

WORD Header Styles Ribbon

Example of Issue

When encountering a lengthy document, sighted users often scroll the page quickly and look for big, bold text (headings) to get an idea of the structure and content of the page. Without the use of structural header tags, screen reader and other assistive technology users will not be able to decode the structure.

Unstructured Text

 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 section titles with missing header tags:

  • Open the Word or PowerPoint document
  • Select the section title that you want to check
  • Select Format > Style… menu item
  • Confirm that a structured style such Header, Heading 1, Heading 2, etc or Title has been chosen.

Alternatively, you may use the Microsoft Word 2010 Accessibility Checker if you are using a PC.  This is unavailable on Macs.

  • Open the Word document
  • Select File > Info > Check Accessibility
  • Look for warnings such as “Skipped Heading Level”

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.

Links to Related Articles

Leave a Reply