Exporting accessible PDFs from Microsoft Word

Starting with an accessible Word document, a goal when exporting to PDF is do so in a way that preserves the accessibility features of the Word document, including heading structure, alternate text for images, and markup that explicitly identifies lists, tables, document language, and other content that is important for accessibility.

Do not print to PDF. This method of creating a PDF does not preserve the document’s accessibility features. The correct method of exporting to PDF depends on which version of Microsoft Office you’re using.

WORD (WINDOWS)

Office 365, Office 2019, Office 2016

  • Before generating your PDF, run the Accessibility Checker to make sure your document is easy for people of all abilities to access and edit. 
  • Click File > Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save as type list.
  • Click Options, make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.

Office 2013

  • Before generating your PDF, run the Accessibility Checker to make sure your document is easy for people of all abilities to access and edit. 
  • Click the File tab, and then click Save As.
  • Under Choose a Location, choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • Under Choose a Folder, choose a folder that you have already used or click Browse for Additional Folders to choose a different folder.
  • In the Save As dialog box, click the arrow in the Save as type list, and then click PDF.
  • Click Options.
  • Make sure that the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.
  • Click Save.

Office 2010

  • Before generating your PDF, run the Accessibility Checker to make sure your document is easy for people of all abilities to access and edit. 
  • Click the File tab, and then click Save As.
  • In the Save As dialog box, click the arrow in the Save as type list, and then click PDF.
  • Click Options.
  • Make sure that the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.
  • Click Save.

Older versions of Microsoft Word for computers operating in Microsoft Windows  

  • In Windows, exporting to an accessible PDF in Office 2007 and 2003 requires a plug-in. The Adobe PDFMaker Plugin ships with Adobe Acrobat Pro, and the plugin is installed into Office and appears as an Adobe toolbar and menu item. With this plug-in installed, use the Adobe toolbar or the Adobe menu item to Save As PDF.  By default this produces a PDF that preserves the document’s accessibility features.

WORD (MAC)word to pdf mac

  • Before generating your PDF, run the Accessibility Checker to make sure your document is easy for people of all abilities to access and edit.
  • Select File > Save As (or press Command+Shift+S), type the file name in the Save As text box, and then choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • In the Save As dialog, go to the File Format drop down box. Use the Down Arrow to browse through file types, and select PDF.
  • Select the radio button "Best for electronic distribution and accessibility (uses Microsoft online service)." This ensures the PDF is tagged.
  • Select Save

Older versions of Microsoft Word for Apple Macs

  • On a Mac, Word did not include accessibility features at all until Office 2011, and did not support saving to tagged PDF until Office 2016. In Office 2011, you can create an accessible Word document, but in order to export to tagged PDF you must take that final step in Word for Windows or LibreOffice for Mac.