PowerPoint Tips

Some content on this site is based on material from Michigan State Web Accessibility with their permission.

Synopsis

  1. Always add ALT tags or labels to images, and include extended text descriptions for graphics and charts as needed. Audio and video files should include captions or transcripts.

  2. Use a color scheme that provides enough contrast between the text and the background, yet is not too overpowering. See the color page for more information on suitable color schemes.

  3. Use sans-serif fonts that are designed for both projectors and online viewing. See the Font Face page for more information on picking a suitable font.

  4. Give a title to every slide. Make sure the title is entered into the designated area (usually at the top), as this will help generate a table of contents for screen reader users (in both PowerPoint and, if the file is converted, in the HTML file).

  5. If your slide includes multiple elements (e.g. images combined with textboxes), use the Arrange tool to order elements in a sequence that will be intelligible to a screen reader user.

  6. Avoid inserting text boxes as they are not recognized by screen readers. Use one of the slide master templates instead.

  7. If you use the Chart Wizard, make sure the chart formatting is accessible.

  8. If you use Adobe Presenter with a PowerPoint file to create a recorded presentation, make sure that images are tagged, and try to minimize transitions. Text transcriptions are also necessary for audio content. For more information, see Creating Accessible Content with Adobe Presenter (from the Adobe Users Community)

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Adding Image ALT Text

Modern versions of Microsoft Office allow you to add ALT text to inserted images. If these files are converted to HTML, the alt text is generally preserved. Please visit the Image ALT text in Microsoft Office page to see the complete list of steps detailing how to add ALT tags to images for different versions of Microsoft Office

Designating Table Headers

Microsoft Office allows you to mark the first row of a table as table headers. Please visit the Designating Table Headers page to see the complete list of steps.

Using the Arrange Tool to Order Elements

Because screen readers cannot simply display all of a slide’s content at once, they must read every slide in a certain order. It is important to verify the order in which each slide is arranged to make sure the information is coherent when read aloud.

To verify the order of slide elements:

  1. Go to the Home tab.
  2. Select the Arrange icon to see a drop-down list of commands
  3. Choose Selection Pane (PowerPoint 2013 for Windows) or Reorder Objects (PowerPoint 2011 for Mac)
    • Reorder tool screen capture for Mac Office 2011 Selection pane for Office 2013
      Reorder tool screen capture for Mac Office 2011 Selection pane for Office 2013
  4. Use the tools to place items in correct reading order. See the Quickstart guides below for details.

Notes on Order

  • Windows: The bottom most item is in the Arrange panel read first.
  • Macintosh: Item #1 in the Rearrange panel is read last.

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