Excel Accessibility: Tables

Table Titles

Be sure to give your table a descriptive title. If your content spans several cells visually, merge the cells. (A screen reader will announce “Pies and Costs Merged Cells A1 through B1.”) However, avoid using merged cells inside tables as they are confusing for those using screen readers.

To add a table title:

  1. Put the title in the first column (e.g. A1).
  2. Select the cells you wish to merge.
  3. Click on Merge & Center (located in the Alignment area of the Home tab)

Excel 2016 Home tab, higlighting the Merge & Center option in the Alignment area

Row & Column Headers

Remember:

  • Row headers are for horizontal
  • Column headers are for vertical

To add headers for your table:

  1. Click on the first cell in the upper-left corner of the table (not on the table title).
  2. Go to the Formulas tab.
  3. Choose Define Name from the Name Manager area of the Formulas tab.
  4. Using the New Name dialog box, type in one of the following for the Name field:
    1. Title (for tables with column and row headers)
    2. RowTitle (for tables with row headers only)
    3. ColumnTitle (for tables with column headers only)

Excel2016ColumnTitle

Format as Table

The Format as Table option is especially helpful for visual users. It allows you to add banded rows and/or columns, which assist users with visual tracking across tables. It also allows you to easily add a Total Row and Filter Buttons so that you may quickly sort and/or filter data. The Format as Table option is located in the Home tab in the Styles area.

Excel 2016 Home tab, highlighting Format as Table option in the Styles area

To format as table:

  1. Select your table. (Note: Do not include the title.

Excel2016SampleTable

2. Go to Format as Table and choose a style. (Note: Your color choices may vary based on the Theme you chose in Page Layout.)

Excel2016FormatTableStyles

3. In the Format As Table dialog box, confirm where your data is, check if your table has headers, and then click OK.

Excel2016FormatTableDialog

4. Now when you click on your table, you’ll notice an additional tab in Excel: Table Tools – Design. (This is a contextual ribbon tab which is only visible when you click on a table.) You may make edits to the look of your table using the features in this tab.

Excel 2016 Table Tools Design tab

Alternative Text

To add alternative text to your table:

  1. Right click on your table.
  2. Select Table and choose Alternative Text.

Excel 2016 Right click on table options highlighting Table options and Alternative Text

  1. Enter appropriate alt text for the table in the Description field. This should be a short description.

Excel 2016 Right click on table options highlighting Table options and Alternative Text

End of Worksheet Label

So that screen reader users will know where a worksheet/table ends, type “end of worksheet” in the row following the last row of the table. Once you’ve typed this, you may hide it visually by matching the text and background color (e.g. white text on white background).

Title Region

Adding TitleRegion to your table helps a screen reader read the table properly so that the listener can better understand it.

You’ll need to add title regions if your worksheet:

  • Includes more than one table,
  • Includes table(s) with sortable columns, and/or
  • Needs to specify an explicit beginning and end to your table.

To add TitleRegion for your table:

  1. Click on the first cell in the upper-left corner of the table (not on the table title).
  2. Go to the Formulas tab.
  3. Choose Define Name from the Names Manager area of the Formulas tab.
  4. Using the New Name dialog box, type in TitleRegion (or RowTitleRegion or ColumnTitleRegion as appropriate) followed by the following four values (be sure to not have any spaces but separate values with periods):
    1. Unique number within the worksheet (e.g. 1 for the first table)
    2. First (upper-left) cell in the table (e.g. A2)
    3. Last (lower-right) cell in the table (e.g. B5)
    4. Sheet number (e.g. 1 for the first tab in the workbook)

Excel 2016 Formulas tab highlighting Define Name in the Name Manager and New Name dialog box

Note: If you end up moving or editing your table, you’ll need to make sure that your information matches the edited table(s).

Deleting Formula Names

If you added headers and or Title Regions to a worksheet and made any changes, double check the Name Manager to make sure there aren’t any unnecessary names. Remove the unneeded formula names by deleting them from the Name Manager.

Excel2016NameManagerDelete

Next week, we’ll move on to Illustrations & Charts.

Note: If you’d like to learn more about Excel, check out Excel & Access Possibilities next month with Dave Swickheimer (Boot Camp – Technology)!

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