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Tagging during conversion to PDF requires an authoring application that supports tagging in PDF. Tagging during
conversion enables the authoring application to draw from the source document’s paragraph styles or other struc
tural information to produce a logical structure tree that reflects an accurate reading order and appropriate levels of
tags. This tagging can more readily interpret the structure of complex layouts, such as embedded sidebars, closely
spaced columns, irregular text alignment, and tables. Tagging during conversion can also properly tag the links,
cross-references, bookmarks, and alternate text (when available) that are in the file.
To tag a PDF in Acrobat, use the Add Tags To Document command. This command works on any untagged PDF,
such asone created withAdobe PDF Printer. Acrobat analyzes the content of the PDF to interpret the individual page
elements, their hierarchical structure, and the intended reading order of each page, and then builds a tag tree that
reflects that information. It also creates tags for any links, cross-references, and bookmarks that you added to the
document in Acrobat.
Though the Add Tags To Document command adequately tags most standard layouts, it cannot always correctly
interpret the structure and reading order of complex page elements, such as closely spaced columns, irregular text
alignment, nonfillable form fields, and tables that don’t have borders. Tagging these pages by using the Add Tags To
Document command can result in improperly combined elements or out-of-sequence tags that cause reading order
problems in the PDF.
For more information, see “Add tags to an existing PDF” on page 305.
9. Add other accessibility features to the PDF.
This stage includes setting the document language, making sure that security settings don’t interfere with screen
readers, creating accessible links, and adding bookmarks. For more information, see “Set the document language”
on page 313, “Prevent security settings from interfering with screen readers” on page 313, “Add accessible links” on
page 312, and “About bookmarks” on page 327.
10. Evaluate the PDF and repair tagging problems.
Once you have a tagged PDF, you must evaluate the document for reading order problems, tagging errors, and acces
sibility errors, and then repair them as needed.
No matter which method you use to tag the PDF, you’ll probably need to use Acrobat to touch up the tagging and
reading order for complex page layouts or unusual page elements. For example, the Add Tags To Document
command can’t always distinguish between instructive figures and decorative page elements such as borders, lines,
or background elements. It may incorrectly tag all of these as figures. Similarly, the Add Tags To Document
command may erroneously tag graphical characters within text—such as drop caps—as figures instead of including
them in the tag that represents the rest of the text block. Such errors can clutter the tag tree and complicate the
reading order that assistive technology relies on.
If you tag a document from within Acrobat, the application generates an error report after it completes the tagging
process. You can use this report to guide you as you repair tagging problems. You can identify other tagging, reading
order, and accessibility problems for any PDF in Acrobat by using the Full Check tool or the TouchUp Reading Order
tool. For more information, see “Check accessibility with Full Check” on page 291 and “Check and correct reading
order” on page 307.
Create a tagged PDF from a web page
APDF that you create from a web page is only as accessible as the HTML source that it is based on. For example, if
the web page relies on tables for its layout design (as many web pages do), the HTML code for the table may not flow
in the same logical reading order as a tagged PDF would require, even though the HTML code is sufficiently struc
tured to display all the elements correctly in a browser.
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Depending on the complexity of the web page, you may need to do extensive repairs by using the TouchUp Reading
Order tool or editing the tag tree in Acrobat.
To produce the most accessible PDFs from web pages you create, first establish a logical reading order in their HTML
code. For best results, employ the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines that are published by the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C). The guidelines are available on the W3C website at www.w3.org.
1 Choose File > Create PDF > From Web Page.
2 For URL, type the address of the web page, or navigate to the web page location.
3 Click Settings.
4 In the General tab, select Create PDF Tags, and then click OK.
5 Select any other options as appropriate, and then click Create.
Creating a tagged PDF from an authoring application
In most cases, you create tagged PDFs from within an authoring application, such as Adobe FrameMaker®, Adobe
InDesign, or Microsoft Word. Creating tags in the authoring application generally provides better results than
adding tags in Acrobat.
PDFMaker provides conversion settings that let you create tagged PDFs in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.
For an in-depth guide to creating accessible PDFs, visit the accessibility page of the Adobe website.
For more information, see the documentation for your authoring application.
About tags in combined PDFs
You can combine multiple files from different applications in one operation to create a single PDF. For example, you
can combine word-processing files with slide presentations, spreadsheets, and web pages.
During conversion, Acrobat opens each authoring application, creates a tagged PDF, and assembles these PDFs into
a single tagged PDF.
The conversion process doesn’t alwayscorrectly interpret the document structure for the combined PDF, because the
files being assembled often use different formats. Because you may need to modify the reading order and tag tree of
the combined document, you may need to use Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D to create an accessible PDF from
When you combine multiple PDFs into one tagged PDF, start with all untagged PDFs or all tagged PDFs. Combining
tagged and untagged PDFs results in a partially tagged PDF that isn’t accessible to people with disabilities; some
users—such as those using screen readers—will be completely unaware of the pages that don’t have tags. If you start
with a mix of tagged and untagged PDFs, tag the untagged files before proceeding. If the PDFs are all untagged, add
tags to the combined PDF after you finish inserting, replacing, and deleting pages.
Keep in mind that when you insert, replace, or delete pages, Acrobat accepts existing tags into the tag tree of the
consolidated PDF in the following manner:
• WhenyouinsertpagesintoaPDF,Acrobataddsthetags(ifany)forthenewpagestotheendofthetag tree,even
if you insert the new pages at the beginning or the middle of the document.
• When you replace pages in a PDF, Acrobat adds the tags (if any) from the incoming pages to the end of the tag
tree, even if you replace pages at the beginning or the middle of the document. Acrobat retains the tags (if any) for
the replaced pages.
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• When you delete pages from a PDF, Acrobat retains the tags (if any) of the deleted pages.
Pages whose tags are out of order in the logical structure tree can cause problems for screen readers. Screen readers
read tags in sequence down the tree, and therefore they might not reach the tags for an inserted page until the end
of the tree. To fix this problem, you’d use Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D to rearrange the tag tree to put large
groups of tags in the same reading order as the pages themselves. To avoid the need for this advanced step, plan so
that you always insert pages to the end of a PDF, building the document from front to back in sequence. For example,
if you create a title page PDF separately from the PDF that contains the body of the text, add the body PDF to the
title page PDF, even though the body document is much larger to process. This approach puts the tags for the body
of the text after the tags for the title page, and eliminates the need for youto rearrange the tags later in Acrobat Profes
sional or Acrobat 3D.
The tags that remain from a deleted or replaced page don’t connect to any content in the document. Essentially, they
are large pieces of empty tag tree sections. These unneeded tags increase the file size of the document, slow down
screen readers, and can make screen readers present confusing results. You should use Acrobat Professional or
Acrobat 3D to delete the tags of deleted pages from the tag tree.
For more information, see “Create merged PDFs and PDF packages” on page 121.
About tools for creating accessible PDF forms
Adobe offers several tools for the creation of accessible PDF forms:
Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D
Use either application to open untagged or tagged PDF forms (except PDF
forms that are created from LiveCycle Designer) to add fillable form fields, such as text boxes, check boxes, and
buttons. Then use the application’s other tools to make the form accessible by adding descriptions to form fields,
tagging untagged forms, setting the set tab order, manipulating tags, and performing the other PDF accessibility
Adobe PDF Forms Access
Use this tool to open and tag untagged PDF forms that you created by using Acrobat
Professional or Acrobat 3D, and to manipulate the tags of these forms. You can then open the tagged PDF in Acrobat
Professional or Acrobat 3D and perform other accessibility tasks. If you often process complex untagged PDF forms,
consider purchasing Adobe PDF Forms Access. Its tagging feature is optimized for interpreting forms content, and
its tags editor is much easier to use than the tags editor in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D for correcting tagging
problems in forms.
(Available in Acrobat Professional and Acrobat 3D) Use this product to design and build new
forms or to import untagged PDF forms and make their form fields fillable and accessible. You can deploy forms in
tagged PDF, XML, and other formats from LiveCycle Designer. Once you create or edit an Acrobat form in LiveCycle
Designer, it becomes a LiveCycle Designer file—it is no longer a PDF that you can edit or manipulate in Acrobat.
Both Acrobat and Reader can open and read PDF forms that you create from LiveCycle Designer. These PDF forms,
however, don’t include permissions to modify the file. You should therefore use LiveCycle Designer only for PDFs
that are intended to contain only form-based information. Don’t use it to add form fields to a document that
combines pages of narrative with an occasional page that has form fields. In this case, you should use Acrobat Profes
sional or Acrobat 3D to add the form fields and then complete the accessibility tasks for the rest of the document’s
Most authoring applications that you can use to design forms don’t retain their fillable form
fields when you convert the files toPDF. You therefore need to use the formstools in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat
3D to add fillable form fields. Moreover, if you tag the form during conversion to PDF, the authoring application may
generate inappropriate tags for the text labels of the form fields. In a complex form, for instance, the text labels for
all the fields may run together into a single line that screen readers can’t interpret as individual labels. Such reading
order problems can require time-consuming work in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D to split the labels apart. In
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this case, producing an untagged PDF form from the authoring application is sometimes the better course. You can
then use the Forms tools in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D to add fillable form fields before you tag the entire
document. Some forms, however, are straightforwardenough that youcan produce a tagged PDF from the authoring
application and do only light touchup in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D after you add the fillable form fields.
Workflow for creating accessible PDF forms
Using Acrobat, you can open untagged and tagged PDF forms, add fillable form fields, add descriptions to the fields,
set the tab order, add alternate text to form fields, and tag the forms (if they aren’t already tagged). You can also edit
the tags of any tagged PDF form by using the TouchUp Reading Order tool or the tag tree.
1. Design the form for accessibility.
Forms tend to have relatively complex layouts compared to documents that have a simple, single-column structure.
The success that an application has in analyzing and tagging a form depends largely on the original formatting and
layout, and on the types of fields that it uses.
When you design a form, include headings, instructions, and fields in which users are to enter data. At a minimum,
give each field a label. Also add special instructions for fields that need them. Use graphics tools to draw lines and
boxes—don’t use characters, such as underscores and vertical bars, because these text characters can confuse screen
Adding descriptions to form fields enables screen readers to identify the fields to users. Users hear the description
read aloud when they tab to the field. Write descriptions that are terse but complete. For example, the description
“First name” is appropriate for a first-name field. Don’t use instructions (such as “Enter first name”) as a description.
2. Set and test the tab order of a form.
The tab order for form fields enables people with disabilities to use a keyboard to move from field to field in a logical
order. In PDF forms, you should set the tab order to Use Document Structure. You can test a form’s tab order by using
the following keyboard commands:
• Tab to move focus to the next field
• Shift+Tab to move focus to the previous field
• Spacebar to select options
• Arrow keys to select radio button options or list items
3. Tag the PDF form and correct tagging issues.
If the PDF form is already tagged, use the TouchUp Reading Order tool in Acrobat to tag each form field. This tool
also enables you to fix any reading order problems of the text labels for the form fields. For example, you may need
to split merged lines of fields into individual fields.
“Set form-field tabbing order in Acrobat” on page 221
“Edit tags with the TouchUp Reading Order tool” on page 308
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