Page Content

Cells and Sheets

Microsoft Excel files are generally accessible, but accessibility can be enhanced by the following

  1. Avoid merging cells. This can cause a screen reader user to not know how cells relate to rows and columns.
  2. Avoid using blank cells for formatting purposes. It is generally better to use other formatting tools such as adjusting column width or height.
  3. Make names of sheets meaningful and unique.
  4. Add a caption title before any table cells.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Add an “End of Table” message in the row after the last row of a data table row. The text can be in white.

Adding Header Names

Using the Names feature, it is possible to name a range of cells in such a way that header cells are along with the value of the cell. This allows a person using a screen reader to understand the structure of a table more clearly.

The previously posted instructions referring to creating a Table in Excel did not enhance accessibility.

Windows

  1. Input a range of cells such that each column and row has a label and there are no merged cells.
  2. Move your cursor to the top left cell of the range (e.g. cell A2). This should be a column header.
    Note: You don’t need to highlight the entire range.
  3. In the Formulas tab, select Define Name (tag icon).
  4. For the Name field input a name with the following template: Title<RegionName>..<rightcell>. For instance, for a table containing information about Spanish speakers in the U.S. which ends at cell H55, the name would be TitleSpanish..H55.
    Note: Names not following this template do not facilitate screen reader access.
  5. Click OK to set the name. The region Name has been set for a screen reader.
    Note: The Name is displayed in the formula bar when the cursor is in the top most shell.

Macintosh

  1. Input a range of cells such that each column and row has a label and there are no merged cells.
  2. Move your cursor to the top left cell of the range (e.g. cell A2). This should be a column header.
    Note: You don’t need to highlight the entire range.
  3. In the Formulas tab, select Define Name (tag icon).
  4. For the field Enter a name for the data range input a name with the following template: Title<RegionName>..<rightcell>. For instance, for a table containing information about Spanish speakers in the U.S. which ends at cell H55, the name would be TitleSpanish..H55.
    Note: Names not following this template do not facilitate screen reader access.
  5. Click OK to set the name. The region Name has been set for a screen reader.
    Note: The Name is displayed in the formula bar when the cursor is in the top most shell.

Chart Wizard

If you are using the Chart Wizard:

  1. Add ALT Text for any inserted chart, object or image used in Excel.
  2. Use the formatting options in line charts to create different types of dotted lines to facilitate legibility for color blind users.
  3. Avoid using the yellow and bright teal lines; use formatting options to change it to a darker color.
  4. Ensure that charts are legible are grayscale (black and white).
  5. 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 Sites at Penn State.

Top of Page