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Style (Role) Mapping/ Custom Tags (MS PowerPoint)

Background and Purpose

Tags in a PDF define the structure of the document so that it can be understood properly by screen readers and other assistive technology devices. It is important that elements in the PowerPoint presentation (e.g. Slide headings) are mapped to the correct PDF tags and that, where appropriate, a PDF bookmark is generated to help the user navigate through the document.

The Purpose of this checkpoint is to ensure that elements in the PowerPoint have been properly mapped to appropriate PDF tags and to identify any styles that should generate PDF bookmarks.


When the panel opens on this checkpoint, CommonLook Office GlobalAccess will list each slide in the PowerPoint and, for each slide, the panel to the right will list the elements on that slide.

For each of the elements listed in checkpoint panel:

  1. Click on the element.  At the bottom of the elements panel, a text field will display the PDF tag to which that element will be mapped.
  2. Ensure the style is mapped to the appropriate PDF tag.  If the mapping is not correct, use the drop-down arrow to change the tag type in the “PDF Tag” field.  Note:  Autodetect is the correct mapping for lists, tables, and paragraphs.
  3. If each instance of a particular style should also generate a PDF bookmark when converted to PDF, check the box to “Create PDF Bookmark for this Tag.” This is typically done for styles such as headings that help the user navigate the document.
  4. Once all of the elements and their PDF tags have been verified, click the arrow to the right of “Applicable Checkpoint” to continue working on the document.

Screen shot of the Style Mapping Checkpoint in CommonLook Office Global Access for PowerPoint. The Title element is selected, it is shown as being mapped to a heading level 1 PDF tag, a bookmark will be generated, and the next applicable checkpoint button is identified.


Especially for presentations that are more than nine slides long, be sure (referring to Step 3 above) that bookmarks will be generated for the content that will be marked as headings in the PDF document.  This aids in the “usability” of the PDF, making navigation easier.

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


Section 508 – 2001 Regulations (USA)

2001“Web-Based Information & Applications”(d)

W3C WCAG 2.0

2008Web ContentSC 1.3.1
SC 2.4.5

Health and Human Services – HHS (USA)

2013PDF File 508 ChecklistID 2.2
ID 3.3

ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)

2012PDF TechnologySection 7.1
Section 7.17