Background I Purpose I Instructions


PowerPoint slides will sometimes include text and other items in individual content blocks that should be grouped together in a single tag, usually a Figure tag. This checkpoint allows PDF presentation authors to organize their objects to ensure a logical reading order and correct usage of alternative text.


This checkpoint enables you to group objects together for PDF tag order and alternative text purposes. Reasons for grouping objects include the following:

  • Multiple objects sometimes need to be understood as a single object to make sense.
  • It’s often necessary to present graphics at specific locations in the logical structure; grouping helps organize graphics objects for this reason.
  • Overlapping objects cause unpredictable results when converted to PDF. Grouping solves this problem, reduces the amount of alternative text required and speeds the conversion process.

Grouping Objects Checkpoint.


Picture of the CommonLook Office panel showing overlapping objects side by side with the PowerPoint Presentation. Important:  Do not group tables and form fields. Grouping these objects will cause them to be ignored by other checkpoints pertaining to those objects. All objects available for grouping in CommonLook Office are displayed in the Current Checkpoint window.

  1. Select each of the objects in the Current Checkpoint panel.
  2. Ensure that content is not obstructed by the object. If required, change the design to eliminate obstructions.
  3. Click the “Group” button.

WARNING: Objects may not layer correctly when they are grouped. If this happens:

  1. Ungroup.
  2. Click the problematic object and click “Send to back” or “Bring to front” to change the order of objects when grouped.
  3. Regroup to test your changes.

Overlapping Objects

It is recommended that overlapping objects be grouped (see the instructions for the Overlapping Objects checkpoint). Grouping allows the user to provide one alternative text for all of the objects, instead requiring alt. text for each individual object.  This task may be performed using either PowerPoint or CommonLook Office.

MS PowerPoint: See grouping shapes for alternative text in MS PowerPoint.

CommonLook Office: The Select Intersecting button finds objects that overlap the currently selected item. If the overlap results in obscuring of text, separate the items or group them.

Key Tip: When objects are obstructed (hidden) by other objects, the PDF may not be generated correctly. If, when using CommonLook, the author allows overlapping of content, then the slides in question should be checked in the resulting PDF to make sure that they are generated correctly.  Should overlapping cause issues in the PDF, return to PowerPoint, move the obstructed text to a new text box, group the new textbox with the image, and recreate the PDF.

Guidelines and Standards

This checkpoint is relevant to the following regulations, guidelines and standards.

DocumentPublishedScopeConformance Criteria
US Section 508 (USA)2001“Web Based Information & Applications”Paragraph (d)
W3C WCAG 2.02008Web ContentSC 1.3.1, SC 1.3.2
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)2012PDF TechnologySection 7.1, 7.3


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