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Accessibility in Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is synonymous with apps like Word and PowerPoint, but how do we avoid the pitfalls of creating inaccessible documents? Here we cover the five main aspects of creating documents that are compatible with screen reading software; an essential tool for users with impaired visibility.


The ribbon in Microsoft Office products contain predefined styles for various types of text and include heading styles.

Headings: Word ribbon

Headings are found in on the Home tab in the Word ribbon


When creating links, consider where they lead to, and label them accordingly. For example, write “Visit Student Services .” rather than “For Student Services, click here.”

Tips to avoid problems

  • Keep linked phrases short, 3-5 words.
  • Links should describe what they are linking to.
  • Links should be in contrasting colours to be mindful of learners with low vision or colour blindness.
  • Avoid linking headings.
  • Never use a URL for the link text—screen readers will read out the URL verbatim, e.g. www.canvas…


Ensure your document uses text colour and background colours that have sufficient contrast. If you have any concerns with the contrast ratio, use the Accessibility Checker to check your document.

Alt text

Click on an image, navigate to the Picture Format menu and select Alt Text in the ribbon. The Alt Text panel will appear on the right prepopulated with an auto-generated description. Edit this, or check the box labelled Mark as decorative.

Follow the link for more detailed support for adding alternative text.


Navigate to the Insert menu to insert a table. Select the table and follow the Table Design menu, choosing one of the Table Styles and customising the Table Style Options ensure your table is accessible.

Follow the link for more details about creating accessible tables.

Page updated 24/04/2024

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