On this page: Background and Purpose | What We Do | An HHS Consideration | Guidelines and Standards

Creating a Tagged Document with a Logical Reading Order (MS Word)

Background and Purpose

All PDF document accessibility standards and guidelines include language regarding the logical reading order of PDF documents.  This language includes various components/ wording such as:

  • Documents shall be organized so that they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.  In other words, the reading order of the document can be determined based on the structure of the document by itself.
  • The presentation of content by assistive technology shall follow the logical order as it is presented visually.
  • If the sequence in which content is presented affects its meaning of that content then a correct reading sequence must be able to be programmatically determined.

The Purpose of this checkpoint is to assure that the generated PDF document will be read by assistive technology in the same logical sequence by which it would be read in print format.

What We Do

CommonLook Office automatically creates PDF documents that are properly tagged and ordered, based on the structure of the document as created in Word.  For further guidance in authoring “best practices,” follow the link in the CommonLook Office ribbon for “Guidelines for Accessible Word Documents.”

Screen shot of the ribbon in CommonLook Office with the button for "Guidelines for Accessible Word Documents" highlighted.

Headers and Footers

CommonLook Office will automatically artifact content in the header and/or footer sections of Word documents and this content will not be read by assistive technology.  If header or footer content should be read, move it to a logical place in the document so that it is included in the tagged content.  Important:  If you have links in your footers, you’ll need to move the links out of the footers OR remove the hyperlinks because you’re not allowed to have untagged annotations in a PDF!

References and Footnotes

CommonLook Office will automatically detect and tag references and footnotes.

An Additional HHS Consideration

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asks, in their PDF file 508 checklist, “If there is an automated accessibility checker in the program used to create the PDF, has that been run and does it pass?”  As a plug-in to MS Word, CommonLook Office can be considered the “built-in accessibility checker.”  By running through the other checkpoints in CommonLook Office, this checkpoint is satisfied as well.

Guidelines and Standards

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

DocumentPublishedScopeConformance Criteria
Section 508 – 2001 Regulations (USA)2001“Web-Based Information & Applications”(d)
W3C WCAG 2.0
(REVISED SECTION 508 – 2017)
2008Web ContentSC 1.3.2
Health and Human Services – HHS (USA)2013PDF File 508 ChecklistID 2.5
ID 3.1
ID 3.2
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)2012PDF TechnologySection 7.1
Section 7.8
Section 7.9