Make your document accessible
When you create a document with Google Docs, follow the tips below to make sure your document is readable by everyone, including people with disabilities.
Google Docs accessibility
Google Docs is designed to work well with screen readers and other assistive technologies. The built-in features below can make your document easier to read.
- Headings: If you use headings to divide your document into sections, your document is easier for people to navigate, particularly if they rely on keyboard shortcuts. You can use the default heading styles or create your own. Learn how to add and customize headings.
- Lists: It's usually easier to read bulleted or numbered lists than long sentences with embedded lists. Google Docs can automatically detect certain kinds of lists. For example, if you start a new line in your document by typing the number 1 followed by a period, the new line automatically becomes the first item in a numbered list. Learn how to format bulleted and numbered lists.
- Alt text: Include alternative text for images, drawings, and other graphics. Otherwise, screen reader users just hear "image." Some images automatically include alt text, so it's a good idea to verify that this automatic alt text is what you want. To add or edit alt text, first select the image, then go to Format > Alt text. Enter alt text in the Description field.
- Tables: Use tables for presenting data, not for visually changing the page layout. Also, be sure to include headers within tables, since screen readers automatically read the first row as the header row. Here's a tip: To insert a table quickly, press Alt + / to search the menus, then type the dimensions (for example, 3x5).
- Landmarks: Landmarks such as headers, footers, page numbers, and page counts (all in the Insert menu) help your readers orient themselves in your document. To maximize accessibility, include one or more of these landmarks, especially in long documents.
- Comments and suggestions: Use the commenting and suggesting features instead of writing notes within the document text. Screen reader users can navigate to comments using keyboard shortcuts rather than hunting through your document. The document owner can also receive email notifications or review comment threads.
Other tips for making documents easy to read
Along with using the built-in Google Docs features listed above, you can design the content of your document to make it easier to read for everyone.
- Color contrast: Good color contrast makes text and images easier to read and comprehend. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 recommend a minimum ratio of 3:1 for large text and 4.5:1 for other text and images. For example, avoid light gray text on a white background. To check contrast, use the WebAIM contrast checker.
- Text size: To make your document legible, avoid using a small font.
- Sentence and paragraph length: To make sure your document is clear and readable, keep sentences and paragraphs short.
- Text alignment: Whenever possible, use left-aligned text. Justified text is more difficult to read because of extra space between the words. To change to left-aligned text, press Control + Shift + L (Windows or Chrome OS) or ⌘ + Shift + L (Mac).
- Formatting plus text: Don't rely on visual formatting to communicate meaning. Screen readers might not announce formatting changes, such as boldface or highlighting. For example, to mark an important section of text, don't simply highlight the text. Along with highlighting, add the word "Important."
- Informative links: Screen readers can scan for links, so informative link text is helpful. It's best to use the title of the page as the linked text. For example, if you're linking to your profile page, the link text should say "my profile," not "click here" or the full URL.
Google Slides HTML view
- HTML view displays your whole presentation in a single, scrollable HTML page, instead of displaying the presentation one slide at a time in the regular presentation view. This is a helpful feature if your audience includes people who use screen readers, and you'd like to make the text more accessible to them.
- To access a presentation in HTML view, go to the View menu and select HTML View. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + H (Cmd + Option + H on a Mac).
Mary is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.