Microsoft Excel files are generally accessible, but accessibility can be enhanced by the following
- Avoid merging cells. This can cause a screen reader user to not know how cells relate to rows and columns.
- Avoid using blank cells for formatting purposes. It is generally better to use other formatting tools such as adjusting column width or height.
- Make names of sheets meaningful and unique.
- Add a caption title before any table cells.
- Label all headers for columns and rows are labeled as in a data table. Use white text to add headers that might be distracting to sighted users.
- Put some text into cell A1, even if the color is set to white. This can be used to point screen reader users to data in the sheet.
- Add an “End of Table” message in the row after the last row of a data table row. The text can be in white.
Convert Data Cells to a "Table"
Recent versions of Excel (e.g. 2010+ in Windows and 2016+ in Mac) include an option to convert a set of related cells to a "table". Doing so allows the header cells to be read with each cell.
- Higlight the cells corresponding to the table, including the header cells.
- Go to the Insert tab (Windows) or Insert menu (Mac).
- Select the option to insert a Table. A window with the cell range will be opened.
- Make sure the option My table has headers is checked. Click OK to save the table.
- A new Table formatting tab is opened. You can uncheck options for Banded Rows and Filter Button as needed.
- Enter a Name (Windows) or Table Name (Mac) in the upper left of the Table tab.
Note: This table name is added to the Names list in the Formulas tab.
- The table can be edited just like any other group of cells in Excel.
If you are using the Chart Wizard:
- Add ALT Text for any inserted chart, object or image used in Excel.
- Use the formatting options in line charts to create different types of dotted lines to facilitate legibility for color blind users.
- Avoid using the yellow and bright teal lines; use formatting options to change it to a darker color.
- Ensure that charts are legible are grayscale (black and white).
- Add a text key for bar charts or change the default colors to a color safe palette.
Export Excel Data to HTML Tables
If you need to export Excel data to accessible HTML tables, then you may want to use the College of Agricultural Sciences Convert Excel tables to HTML. This tool allows you to cut and paste data from Excel, add captions and summary text then have it converted to HTML.
Even if you don’t know much about HTML, you can cut and paste this code into the HTML view of any online blog, content manager or an HTML editor such as ANGEL.