Excel Accessibility: Page Layout Ribbon Tab

Excel 2016 Page Layout Ribbon Tab


This benefits everyone because Themes allow you to keep things consistent and more easily update a workbook. It’s usually much easier and more consistent than trying to achieve similar effects with typography.

Choosing a Theme affects your Colors, Fonts and Effects.

Excel 2016 Themes with Colors, Fonts and Effects


Don’t rely on color alone to convey content. Use color plus another form of communication if needed. The use of color is very helpful in some instances! For example, banded tables assist with visual tracking. Other types of textured and/or colored backgrounds, however, are generally difficult to deal with, so avoid using those. Also, remember that people with visual impairments, including color blindness, will likely be unable to distinguish color differences. Likewise, someone may be printing a black and white (or grayscale) copy of the spreadsheet or have a screen that doesn’t show colors properly.

Colored Text Example

Don’t do this: Items indicated in red are required.

Do this instead: Items indicated in red and with an asterisk (*) are required.

Contrast (Luminance Contrast)

When adding color, also remember the importance of contrast. (Technically, it’s called “luminance contrast.”) Some users (such as some with low vision) need high contrast. However, others (such as some with reading disabilities) have trouble with the bright colors of high contrast (high luminance), so what they actually need is low luminance. Don’t worry about the technicality of ratios, but use common sense – be sure you can easily read your own tables! A quick test of grayscale may help you decide if the contrast is sufficient.

Color contrast example:

Example of good and bad contrast

Tips to assist individuals who are colorblind when you are creating charts or graphs:

  • Avoid red, orange and green.
  • Avoid yellow and bright teal lines – try darker colors.
  • Use texture instead of color to denote different areas. (You’ll just need to be careful that the texture doesn’t interfere with reading any text.)
  • Add a text key if needed.


Using one of Excel’s built-in Theme Fonts is a fairly safe bet for decent readability.

Excel 2016 Page Layout tab, higlighting the Fonts area of Themes

Here are some other quick tips:

  • Use 12-18 point fonts.
    • Use a 10 point font at the very least.
    • A new, blank Excel 2016 worksheet is set for Calibri and an 11 point font.
  • Choose simple, sans serif fonts (avoid “flowery” fonts).
  • Use normal weight fonts (rather than bold or light fonts).

We’ll revisit Page Layout in a few weeks, but after Spring Break we’ll discuss a few general principles, especially for screen reader users.


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