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Publisher Accessibility

Microsoft Publisher doesn't have all the accessibility tools of other Microsoft 365 applications. If you use Publisher to make PDFs, you will need to use Adobe Acrobat to fix accessibility issues. Because of this, you may want to consider using Word or InDesign instead of Publisher. If you need to use Publisher, here are some tips that can help:

Quick Tips

  1. Headings - Use "Styles" for headings. 
    • Open "Styles" from the Home menu. Right-click a style and use "Update to Match Selection" or "Modify..." to customize it's appearance.
    • Use Heading 1 for the title of the document, Heading 2 for main section headings, Heading 3 for sub-section headings, etc. 
  2. Pictures - Add Alt Text to Pictures (and Shapes, Smart Art, etc.)
    • Right click a picture, select Format Picture, Alt Text, and enter the Alternative Text. 
    • Don't describe the picture; enter alt text that communicates what the picture is meant to communicate.
    • For decorative images (those that don't really communicate anything), leave the alt text blank, and use Adobe Acrobat to mark it as decorative (see below).
  3. Tables - Avoid using tables (or keep them VERY simple).
    • Publisher doesn't have a way to mark row or column headers in tables. If you have to include tables, keep them VERY simple and plan to mark the headers in Acrobat.
  4. Order - Use "Bring to Front" to set document order.
    • Use separate elements for each "chunk" of content, for example, if you have some text, a picture, and more text, make them three separate elements (two text boxes and a picture).
    • After you are done adding everything to your document, click each element, in the order in which they should be read, and click Bring Forward, Bring to Front.
    • Publisher doesn't have a way to see the order of elements, so do this carefully and check the order in Adobe Acrobat to be sure (see below).
  5. Color - Use the free Colour Contrast Analyser to check colors. 
    • Check that all text/background color combinations "Pass (AA)".
  6. Save As PDF - Make sure "Document structure tags for accessibility" is checked.
    • When saving as PDF, click the Options button, and make sure"Document structure tags for accessibility" is checked. If you pick Minimum Size, Commercial Press, or Custom, it may be un-checked, so check it again.
    • While you're in the Save As dialog, Add a Title for your document if it doesn't already have one. 
  7. Check & Correct Accessibility - Publisher doesn't have an accessibility checker, so you will need to use Adobe Acrobat to check:
    • In Acrobat, use the Accessibility Check to find issues.
    • Use Set Alternate Text tool to check alt text and mark any images that don't communicate anything as "Decorative".
    • Export to Text (Accessible) and/or use the Tags panel to check the reading order. If you find problems, try to fix them in Publisher and re-save as PDF.

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