lower for subsections under each Heading 2. Don’t use heading styles for anything other than
indicating your document sections. (If you want to change Word’s built-in heading styles, refer
to Word help documentation and to the footnote in the introduction to this Word section.)
Breaking down your document into short sections under headings can also make the content
more readable for all users, and especially those with cognitive disabilities.
Try creating your own real headings. Open Word and create a new
document. Either type or copy and paste 6 lines of text into the document,
with hard returns after each (i.e., hit enter). Gibberish or random words are
Now, make the first line into the built-in Heading 1 style. Make the third
line Heading 2 style. And make the fifth line Heading 3 style.
Make Real Lists
As with headers, when you make bulleted or numbered lists, use Word’s built-in style features to
create them. This makes it easier for you, and possible for screen readers to identify the lists.
Ways of Making Real Lists
Start by highlighting the text you want to make into a bulleted or numbered list. Then either:
Click the bullet or number icon in your toolbar.
Bullet toolbar icon in Word
In the Word menu, follow this path: Format > Bullets and Numbering > select the
Bulleted, Numbered, or Outlined Numbered tab as appropriate.
Choose a bulleted or numbered style from Word’s built-in styles, in the same way as
you select a heading style described in the previous section.
Even the best structured table in Word can be challenging for a screen reader to make sense of.
However, particularly in academics, tables still often provide the clearest way of presenting
information. If you do need to use tables, it is better to create them in HTML than in Word.
(Refer to the HTML table formatting section on page 44).
When you do create tables in Word, simplify them, define column widths with percentages (not,
e.g., inches) and create clear row and column labels.
Simplify your tables as much as possible. For example, because screen readers have trouble
making sense of them, avoid using more than one heading for rows or columns (i.e., don’t use
subheadings), and don’t use headings that span more than one row or column. Also, complex
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