Remove markup and personal data
If you use Word for Windows, you can use a tool called Document Inspector to ‘clean’ your document of personal information and other hidden data.
See Concordia University’s guide to Scrubbing Metadata from Word Documents.
If you use Word for Mac, there is no Document Inspector. So, there are two different things you need to do.
To remove all ‘markup’ (tracked changes and comments), go to the ‘review’ panel, and under ‘changes’, accept all changes (or reject them if you want to undo any that you have made).
Then, under ‘comments’, highlight a comment, select ‘delete’ and delete all.
To remove personal information, follow these steps in Concordia University’s guide to Scrubbing Metadata from Word Documents.
In case of viruses, you should also delete any macros from the document.
Creating accessible Word documents
Follow WebAIM’s excellent guide to creating accessible Word documents.
Headers help readers understand how tables are organised into columns and rows. Read more in Colorado State University’s tutorial Indicating Table Headers in Word.
- Have you used styles to create a structured document?
- Is there alternative text for all images?
- Have you given your tables headers (and alt text if possible)?
- Alternative text for links?
- Created a table of contents for long documents?
The basis for creating accessible PDFs is to start with an accessibly structured and tagged document. Please refer to the guide to creating accessible Word files first, as saving to PDF will simply maintain these accessible features in the new format.
For instructions on how to create a PDF from a Word document, see the WebAIM guide to converting documents to PDF.
- Have you ensured that your PDF saved as searchable text (not as images of text)? The easiest way to check is by trying a text search in your PDF reader.
- Does the document use default fonts, that can be extracted to text?
- Has the document language been specified (e.g. English)?
- Have you made sure security settings do not restrict assistive technology (ideally copy and paste should be allowed)
- Has your starting document been properly structured and tagged – using in-built styles for titles, etc?
- Does it contain alternative text descriptions for all images?
Creating PDFs of other file types
It is possible to create PDFs from other applications, for example Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Powerpoint. In these cases you should still follow accessibility principles to create tagged PDFs, but please remember that in the first instance you should be aiming to provide documents to learners as Word documents.
See the PDF association’s list of accessible PDF creation tools.
Please note that PDFs containing mathematical notation may not work at all with screen readers.
- For Adobe Acrobat users – Adobe’s full accessibility training guides.
- An alternative, simplified guide to creating PDFs from Word documents, maintained by and for the UK Government Digital Service.