Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

Creating Accessible Tables in Microsoft Word Documents


Working with tables in Word? Tables are very useful for displaying a large amount of data in an organized manner, such as your course schedule, office hours, etc. In order to make a table accessible for individuals who are blind, have a visual impairment, or a learning disability, provide row and column headers. The text-to-speech software by default will read the information in a table horizontally, cell by cell, row by row.

Here are a few important tips you want to consider when creating accessible tables in Word:

Inserting a Table in Word 2007:

  1. Insert > Expand the Table menu (Figure 1)
  2. Select the number of rows and columns using one of the methods below:
    1. Insert Table (Figure 1) > select the number of rows and columns in the Insert Table dialog box (Figure 2)> Select OK
    2. Visually selecting the number of rows and columns from the grid provided (Figure 1)

using the table icon from the ribbonFigure 1
insert table dialogue boxFigure 2

Header Rows in Word 2007

A Header Row should be added to tables to distinguish the heading text from the data area of the table. Header rows are also important if the table spans more than one page. To repeat the header row when a table spans more than one page:

  1. Select the first row of the table > Right click for context menu > Table Properties…> Row tab
  2. Select (check) the option “Repeat as header row at the top of each page” (Figure 3)
  3. Select OK

table properties dialogue boxFigure 3

Written by: Kim Vincent-Layton, Instructional Technologist, Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, Humboldt State University

Tip References

The Humboldt State University Training & Professional Development website at: http://training.humboldt.edu/resources.php

The Humboldt State University Accessible Technology Initiative website at: http://www.humboldt.edu/~ati

The California State University Professional Development for Accessible Technology website at: http://teachingcommons.cdl.edu/access/docs_multi/wordf2f.shtml