Accessible Documents – Styles Ribbon

Styles Ribbon

Word 2013 Styles RibbonScreen readers (assistive technology used by those with significant visual impairments) don’t distinguish the information in the Font area of the Home ribbon, such as Bold, Italics, Font Color, Font Size, Text Effects, Text Highlight Color, etc. Therefore, you need to use Styles, located in the Home Ribbon. Styles create many similar visual effects in such a way that all users can access the same information. Styles also provide visual consistency as they allow you to adjust styles, colors, fonts and paragraph spacing.


Headings provide structure to the document and help people navigate longer documents. They can also be used to create an automatic Table of Contents. There should only be one Heading 1 per document. It is like the title of the document. The actual Title style does not appear in the Navigation pane and it is not read by screen readers. (The Title style may be used for print only documents, but it should not be used for electronic documents.) A single Heading 1 is similar to standards for the web – in html, there should only be one <h1> per web page. If you’d like to make the Heading 1 style look more like a title, you may modify it –check out the Modifying Styles blog next week!

Think of headings as a meaningful hierarchy. They work like an outline for the document and should be nested appropriately. In other words, Heading 2 needs to come before Heading 3. Another Heading 2 can come after a Heading 3.

Headings example:

Headings example showing 1 heading 1, with headings 2 and 3 nested following it

Emphasis and Strong

Use Emphasis instead of Italic and Strong instead of Bold. They look the same visually, and the use of Emphasis and Strong will be meaningful to screen readers, too!

Screenshot of Word 2013 Styles options with Emphasis and Strong highlighted(Note: In some style sets, Emphasis may appear as all caps. You may adjust this by modifying the style.)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s