Accessible Documents: Converting Word to PDF (Using Word 2013 and Adobe Acrobat XI)

Acrobat Ribbon Tab

Be sure to save your document in Word first. Then, you can use the Acrobat ribbon tab or the Save As Adobe PDF option located in the File menu. (Note: Do not convert to PDF by using Print to PDF – it will not be tagged correctly.)

Camel Case Document File Name

Using Camel Case is more important for documents which will be uploaded to the web. This helps urls for PDFs stay “cleaner.” When you save your document, be sure to “CamelCase” the file name. CamelCase is a standard method for naming files that eliminates spaces, hyphens, underscores, or any other special characters. The first letter of every word is capitalized and there are no spaces between words. (Example: VictoriaCollegeFallCalendar.pdf )

Whether or not you choose to use Camel Case for the file name, the name should be concise yet descriptive.


You’ll need to make sure that your Acrobat PDFMaker Preferences are set to optimally convert your documents to accessible PDFs. The Preferences option is located in the Create Adobe PDF area of the Acrobat ribbon tab.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Acrobat tab with Preferences highlighted in the Create Adobe PDF areaIn the Settings tab, be sure that the following options are checked in the Application Settings: Create Bookmarks, Add Links, and Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Acrobat PDFMaker dialog box with the Application Settings options highlightedIf applicable, go to the Word tab and make sure the checkbox is checked for Convert footnote and endnote links. Then, go to the Bookmarks tab and make sure that all applicable Bookmark Options are checked. Bookmarks assist with navigation in longer documents. The Word elements that should be bookmarked will vary by document. By default, the Preferences will be set to Convert Word Headings to Bookmarks, and this is usually sufficient.

Be sure to click OK to save your Preferences. (These Preferences should be saved for the future when you use Word, so you probably won’t have to set them again. However, it’s always a good idea to double check your settings.)

Create PDF

Go to the Acrobat tab and select Create PDF.

Screenshot of Word 2013 Acrobat tab wtih Create PDF option highlighted(Alternately: Go to File > Save as Adobe PDF.)

Most of your formatting from Word will carry over to the PDF. However, the more complicated your Word document, the more likely you’ll need to do a bit of remediation in PDF. The most common thing you may need to adjust is reading order.

Adobe Acrobat Professional XI

Once you’ve converted your Word document to PDF, open the document in Adobe Acrobat Professional XI. Acrobat XI has a built-in Accessibility Checker as well as a Make Accessible Action Wizard. These tools will assist you with making sure your PDF is as accessible as possible.




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