This resource is designed to help you provide your students with accessible Microsoft Word documents.  The table below provides recommendations and links to appropriate guidance materials.  Please note that the points raised here encompass both the values and ethos of the Universal design for Learning and the requirements of Accessibility legislation (Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018) relating to resources made available via websites, including the Blackboard VLE.

Microsoft provides a mechanism for checking the accessibility of documents in word and a full description of the method for running this check is provided at the end of the table below.

An abbreviated version of this table is available at this link, for you to download and use as a checklist.

What to think about What to do
Font Use a sans serif fonts, such as Arial, Helvetica, Calibri and Tahoma.
Font size For documents try to keep the font size at 12 or above.

For headings and sub headings use a larger font size.

Filename Make the File name descriptive of the content.
Headings Use the styles and heading tools rather than formatting standard text to look right.

Ensure that titles and headings are descriptive and clearly stated.

Structure Use a 1.5 line spacing.

Align left wherever possible and avoid justification.

  • Indented bullet points and staggered bullets can aid navigation in some instances.


Use a punctuation mark after a bullet point.

Add spaces around Headings and Paragraphs (use the add space before or after a paragraph option).

Avoid using multiple columns of text.

Avoid using textured background styles.

Avoid crowded text and images (where text is to be enlarged, 7 – 11 words per line is preferable).

Avoid text wrapping images – put images in line with the text.

Avoid adding text over images.

Avoid the use of indentation for new paragraphs (use line spacing).

Links Use meaningful text and descriptions for hyperlinks.

ScreenTips can be employed to provide additional hyperlink information (Screen Tips are added via the hyperlink set-up window).

To show or hide screen tips

Avoid using a full url on a page.

Images, diagrams, charts and graphics To add images, icons, word art etc. to a word document.

Use ALT text to provide a clear description of any type of non-text object added. (Office 2019)

For other versions of Microsoft Word use the information at this link to add ALT text.

  • Describe the content and purpose of the object.
  • Try to do this in one or two short sentences.
  • Avoid repeating content from the body of the text.


Decorative images do not need explanatory ALT text but it does need to indicate that the image is decorative.

A more detailed image description may be required in the body of the text where specific details and ideas are to be conveyed.

Avoid using any content that flashes or flickers.

Avoid using visual characteristics alone to convey information.

Avoid including images of text.

Text colours Avoid communicating ideas with colour alone.

Avoid using green and red / pink.

Colour contrast Ensure that there is a high contrast between the text and its background.  The default themes and style options in Microsoft Word have acceptable text to background contrast levels.  This can be checked using the Microsoft accessibility checker – see below.

Information about these aspects of Microsoft Word can be accessed at this link.

Headers and footers Ensure that any vital information included in these areas is repeated within the body of the text.
Tables Use a simple table structure.

Include clear column and row headings.

Only use a table where it is absolutely necessary – avoid using a table as a formatting tool.  For instance, to add columns.

Avoid split and merged cells.

Avoid blank rows and columns

Superscript and Subscript Where possible, avoid offline additions:

  • 18th November 2019 is preferred to 18th November 2019 (it is better to use text for the month).
  • CO­­2 or CO2 is preferred to CO2.


There are a wealth of additional support materials available for users of Microsoft Word at this link.

The accessibility of a Microsoft Word document can be checked easily from within Word by:

  • Select the ‘File’ tab in the top left hand corner.
  • Click the ‘Check for Issues’ button and select ‘check accessibility’.

check accessibility option

  • A separate panel will appear on the right hand side of the screen that gives information about any accessibility issues with your document and suggestions about the way to fix them.

accessibilty check panel