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Create Accessible PDFs from Word 2007 Documents

If you create PDFs from Microsoft Word 2007 documents, changing some of the settings in Microsoft Word 2007 will make it easier for you to create accessible PDFs.

Adjust Adobe Acrobat conversion settings in Word

You will only need to adjust these settings once. When you save your settings, they will apply to all future PDF conversions. Select:

  • Acrobat tab
  • Preferences

Word 2007 toolbar Acrobat tab and preferences


Select the Settings tab. Under PDFMaker Settings, make sure that:

  • Conversion settings are set to standard
  • View Adobe PDF result is checked
  • Prompt for Adobe PDF file name is checked
  • Convert document information is checked

Under Application Settings, make sure that:

  • Create bookmarks is checked
  • Add Links is checked
  • Enable accessibility, and reflow with tagged Abobe PDF is checked

Settings for accessibility

Select the Bookmarks tab. Make sure that:

  • Convert Word headings to bookmarks is checked
  • Click ok

Convert Word headings to bookmarks display

Simple layouts save time

Documents with simple layouts take less time to make accessible. Multiple column layouts, complicated themes and formatting significantly add to the time it will take to make a file accessible for the web. Evaluate the need for complexity. Simpler is often better.

Use Microsoft Word’s built-in style elements

To accommodate the requirements of screen readers, it’s helpful to format documents using Word's style elements:

  • Screen readers are set up to use these styles to identify the elements that make up a document
  • Styles provide clues to the reading order intended by the author
  • Styles set in your Word document will transfer over into the PDF document during the conversion process

To use styles in Microsoft Word, select:

  • Home tab
  • Styles group

Styles group

Accept all changes

If you’ve used Track Changes, make sure that all the changes have been accepted before you convert the document into a PDF. Select:

  • Review tab
  • Changes group
  • Select the drop-down arrow under Accept
  • Choose “Accept all changes in document”

Accept changes

Check document properties

To check the document properties, select:

  • Office button in the upper left corner
  • Prepare
  • Properties

A dialog box will appear. Select the document properties drop-down arrow and select advanced properties. Go to the Summary tab.

Enter a title

Enter a title that gives some detail about the content of the article. It should be understandable out of context.

Enter an author

Instead of having an individual’s name,  enter the office that produced the document such as WSDOT Communications. Click ok.

Enter alternate text for images and graphics

Alternate text allows screen readers to describe an image or a graphic to those who cannot see it. To add alternate text:

  • Select the image
  • Right click to get a menu
  • Select size

Select size from the menu

Select the alt text tab:

Alt text tab

Enter alternate text that describes the image or graphic. Click close.

Convert your document into a PDF

Select the Acrobat tab. Select create PDF.

Create PDF

Adobe Acrobat will create the PDF. When it is finished, it will display on your screen.

Use accessibility quick check

Use Adobe Professional’s Quick Check to make sure you haven't missed any major accessibility issues. From the Adobe Professional toolbar, select:

  • Advanced
  • Accessibility
  • Quick check

The Quick Check results will appear on the screen. If it passes the Quick Check you've done an adequate job of making it accessible. You can choose the full check option if you wish to check it more thoroughly.

If there are accessibility problems in the document, you can either correct them in the Word document and then re-create the PDF or you can use Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 or 9 to correct any accessibility issues.

Video Training

WSDOT staff can view a video on this topic on the intranet at:

http://wwwi.wsdot.wa.gov/communications/web/videotraining.htm