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Preparing an MS OFFICE document for the Web

1. Create Well Structured WORD Documents

Most people use word processors incorrectly. Rather than use true headings, they simply enlarge the font size and make it bold. Use styles to format text such as titles, headings, and paragraphs. If you do this, the document has no real structure that can be discerned by a screen reader. Styles provide structure information for accessible documents and save you time!

The correct way to provide structure within Word documents is to use Word styles. The drop-down styles list in Word allows you to create true headings, as well as apply any previously-created custom style. For example, do not use the Enter key to add space between paragraphs. Instead, use the "Spacing Before" and "Spacing After" paragraph properties to achieve this effect.

Helpful Links
Tips for understanding styles in Word
Why use Microsoft Word's built-in heading styles?
Understanding Styles in Microsoft Word
Browsing Habits of Screen Reader Users

2. Insert ALT Text for images

Alternative text for images is the first principle of web accessibility

Office 2007

If you are editing an Office 2000/3 file (.doc, .ppt, .xls) in Office 2007:

  1. Right-click on the image
  2. Select "Format Picture", (Object, Auto Shape etc.)
  3. Under the "Web" tab, type or paste alternative text.

If you are editing the file as a native 2007 file (.docx, .pptx, .xlsx):

  1. Right-click the shape, picture, chart, border of the SmartArt graphic, or other object, and then click "Size"
  2. Alternately, select "Size" from the format ribbon
    format ribbon
  3. Click the Alt Text tab, and then in the Alternative text box, enter your text.

If the above solutions for Inserting ALT Text do not work or MS Word doesn't display the Size and Alt Text options:

Add the ALT Text button to your MS Word Quick Access Toolbar. This allows you to add ALT Text to any image, shape, picture, chart, graphic or object. To add the Alt Text button:

  1. Click the small drop-down arrow in the top left corner of MS Word.
    access drop down arrow
  2. Choose More Commands from the drop-down menu list.
    more commands
  3. Choose Commands Not in the Ribbon from the drop-down menu list.
  4. Scroll down the drop-down menu until you find Alt Text.
    alt text choice
  5. Choose the Add >> button.
    add button
  6. Choose the OK button.
    ok button
  7. This adds a new Alt Text button to your top left Quick Access Toolbar.
    new toolbar button

Once you have this Alt Text button in your Quick Access Toolbar, highlight the image in your document, choose the Alt Text Quick Access Toolbar button, and the Size pop-up menu will display allowing you to choose the Alt Text tab and enter alternate text for your image.

Helpful Links
Making Accessible Office 2007 Documents Download MS WORD Document
Alt Text: examples and guidelines
Snipping Tool (Alternative to Grouped Objects) Download MS WORD Document
Optimizing Images in Microsoft Office

3. Insert Tables rather than tabs

Use the Columns command in WORD to create columns. Don't use tabs to simulate double-column text. Use the Insert Table command or Draw Table tool in Word to create tables.

4. Add an electonic title

Add a brief but meaningful title to all Office docs. Use unique words and write in title case, (not ALL CAPS) This will help all users find your document using search.

Office 2007

Use the Document Information Panel to view or change the document properties.

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button , point to Prepare, and then click Properties.
  2. From the Document Information Panel add an appropriate title in the TITLE field
  3. Save and close
document information panel
Helpful Links
Writing Appropriate Page Titles
Writing usable titles for web pages
Writing Better Web Page Titles
Title: the most important element of a quality Web page

5. Check the links

If your document contains links to the web, test them to be sure they work properly. Also remove active links for commercial web sites.

6. Remove "Track Changes" and "Comments"

These are helpful tools for collaborative work, but remove them for web publication. more

7. Reduce File Size

Keep size of Office files under 5 Megabytes. In particular, MS Word is notorious for creating unnecessarily large files. Large files are very slow to download, save and edit . These suggestions can help restrict and reduce your Word document sizes. (Note that some of these options also apply to Excel and PowerPoint.) read more >

Last Updated: December 3, 2014
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