Accessible Documents – Tables

Tables

The Table option is located in the Insert tab. Always use Insert Table to create a table. (Never use Draw Table, the Tab key or the Spacebar to create something that looks like a table.)

Go to Insert > Table > Insert Table…

Screenshot of Word 2013 Insert tab with Table option highlightedChoose the number of columns and rows you’ll need, remembering to include space for row and/or column headers. (If needed, you can insert additional rows and/or columns later, too.)

Insert Table dialog box

Keep the Table on One Page

If at all possible, the table should not extend to other pages. (You may need to think about adjusting the document layout to landscape for some tables.) To be sure the table is confined to one page, go to Table Properties.

Table Properties is located in the Table area of the Table Tools Layout tab.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Tools Layout tab with Properties highlightedClick on the Row tab in the Table Properties dialog box and Uncheck Allow rows to break across pages.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Tools Layout tab with Properties highlighted(Alternately, select the entire table > Right click > Table Properties > Row > Uncheck Allow rows to break across pages.)

Table Headers

In order to make tables accessible for screen readers, you’ll need to indicate Column and/or Row Headers for your table.

The tools you’ll need to set table headers are located in the Table Tools tabs: Design and Layout. These are “contextual ribbon tabs” and are only visible in the ribbon when you click on your table.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Tools Layout tab with Properties highlightedFirst, set the header row to repeat at the top of each page. (This is especially vital if your table needs to extent to another page. This aids visual users, too!)

Right click on the first cell (first row) of the table > Table Tools > Layout (Data area) > Repeat Header Rows:

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Tools Layout tab with Repeat Header Rows highlightedThe Repeat Header Rows icon will stay highlighted in blue.

(Alternately, right click on the first row of the table > Table Properties > Go to the Row Tab > Repeat as header row at the top of each page.)

Next, click on the first cell of the table again > Table Tools > Design > Table Style Options area.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Tools Design tab with Table Style Options area highlightedIf your table has headings for each row, check the First Column box. If your table has headings for each column, check the Header Row box. If you have both row and column headings, check both First Column and Header Row boxes.

To make visual tracking easier, it may be helpful to check Banded Rows and/or Banded Columns in the Table Style Options area. This will depend on the nature or your data. Check out the visual options in the Table Styles area of the Table Tools Design tab, too. Pick the option that makes the most sense for your table.

Alt Text for Tables

Alt text will be discussed more fully in the Illustrations/Images section.

To add alt text to your table: Click on your table > Table Properties > Layout (Table area) > Properties:

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Tools Layout tab with Properties highlightedGo to the Alt Text tab in the Table Properties dialog box and enter a meaningful Description.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Properties dialog box with the Alt Text tab selected and the Description field highlighted for Add meaningful description here

Table Captions

You may wish to add a caption to your table. This provides additional information about the table to visual users who won’t be reading the alt text. Captions are important reference guides for anyone reading a document that refers to specific tables.

The Insert Caption option is located in the References Tab.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Table Properties dialog box with the Alt Text tab selected and the Description field highlighted for Add meaningful description hereTo add a Caption to your table: Select the entire table > References > Insert Caption.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Caption dialog box(Alternately: Select the entire table > Right click > Insert Caption.)

Be sure to choose Table in the Label section and then add your caption to the caption section. Word will automatically call it Table 1 (or subsequent numbers), so add the descriptive title of the table after that.

Sample Accessible Table

Once you’ve completed your table, it may look something like this:

Sample Accessible Table - various tires, costs and warranties

 

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