Best Practices for Creating Accessible PDF Documents from Word
and PowerPoint Documents
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5. Federal Victim Notification System receives $5 million
6. OVC discretionary grants (5 percent of the remaining balance)
7. State compensation formula grants (may not exceed 47.5 percent of the
8. State victim assistance grants receive 47.5 percent of the remaining balance
plus any funds not needed to reimburse victim compensation programs at
the statutorily established rate
Note that instead of using the abbreviation for full-time employees (FTE) and using
an asterisk to explain it, the full term was written out in the alt text. A screen
reader might try to “read” FTE* and say “fteee star” which means nothing to a
screen reader user and sounds kind of funny. Make it easier on your blind audience
by writing out full terms instead of abbreviations that may confuse them and their
Some people think that it is a good idea to give decorative images alt text, but only
use quotation marks (“”) which is what is done in HTML with images that do not
need description. While this will reduce the initial accessibility errors when a PDF is
created, it might also cause confusion when a screen reader user encounters the
image. It is best to remove alt text from images that do not need alt text and then
go back and mark them as background in the PDF. Please note that in this paper
the author chose to not create alt text for the images because they are all
described in the text. Hearing “screenshot of blah blah” over and over again would
become tiresome for a screen reader user. When it is converted it to a PDF the
author will mark all of these screenshots as background.
It is probably best to describe the image within the text of the document, but since
that can muddy up the flow of the rest of the document, most people choose to
hide it within the alt text. An HTML file has more options for long text description,
but since there is no limit to the amount of alt text within a MS-Word file, the
following option works fine.
When you insert images in an MS-Word document the image is automatically given
alt text. This alt text is the filename of the image. For example, Figure 13 has the
file name Figure2-New.gif so the automatic alt text is Figure2-New.gif. This does
not describe the graphic at all and a screen reader user will only hear Figure2-
New.gif when he or she encounters this image.
To change or add alt text using MS-Word 2010 follow the steps below.
Right-click on the image and choose Format Picture (Figure 14).