Microsoft Excel – Make your Excel spreadsheet accessible – Windows and Mac

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Windows
 
Windows: Best practices for making Excel spreadsheets accessible
The following table includes key best practices for creating Excel spreadsheets that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix How to find it Why fix it How to fix it
Include alternative text with all visuals and tables.

Visual content includes pictures, clip art, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find all instances of missing alternative text in the spreadsheet, use the Accessibility Checker. Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to PivotCharts

Add alt text to tables

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips. To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan the workbook. People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

TIP: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over a cell that includes a hyperlink.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips
Give all sheet tabs unique names, and remove blank sheets. To find out whether all sheets that contain content in a workbook have descriptive names and whether there are any blank sheets, use the Accessibility Checker. Screen readers read sheet names, which provide information about what is found on the worksheet, making it easier to understand the contents of a workbook and to navigate through it. Rename sheet tabs

Delete sheet tabs

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information. To ensure that tables don’t contain split cells, merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns, use the Accessibility Checker. Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Add headers to a new table

Use headers in an existing table

Add alt text to visuals and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals and tables in your Excel spreadsheets.

NOTE: We recommend only putting text in the description field and leaving the title blank. This will provide the best experience with most major screen readers including Narrator. For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, clip art, and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image.
  2. Select Format Picture > Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Picture pane describing the selected image

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a SmartArt graphic.
  2. Select Format Shape > Shape Options Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected SmartArt graphic

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes, including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Right-click a shape.
  2. Select Format Shape > Shape Options Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected shape

Add alt text to PivotCharts

  1. Right-click a PivotChart.
  2. Select Format Chart Area > Chart Options Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Chart Area pane describing the selected PivotChart

Add alt text to tables

  1. Right-click a table.
  2. Select Table > Alternative Text.
  3. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alternative Text dialog box

Make hyperlinks, tables, and sheet tabs accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, tables, and sheet tabs in Excel spreadsheets accessible.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

  1. Right-click a cell.
  2. Select Hyperlink.
  3. In the Text to display box, type the hyperlink text.
  4. In the Address box, enter the destination address for the hyperlink.
  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

TIP: If the title on the hyperlink’s destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Insert Hyperlink dialog box

Use headers in an existing table

Specify a header row in a block of cells marked as a table.

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.
  2. On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
  3. Type column headings.

Screenshot of the Table Style Options group, with check boxes selected

Add headers to a new table

Specify a header row in a new block of cells you are marking as a table.

  1. Select the cells you want to include in the table.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Tables group, select Table.
  3. Select the My table has headers check box.
  4. Select OK.
    Excel creates a header row with the default names Column1Column2, and so on
  5. Type new, descriptive names for each column in the table.

Screenshot of the Create Table dialog box, with the My table has headers check box selected”>>

Rename sheet tabs

  1. Right-click a sheet tab, and select Rename.
  2. Type a brief, unique name for the sheet.

Screenshot of the Rename menu item

Delete sheet tabs

  1. Right-click a sheet tab.
  2. Select Delete.

Screenshot of the Delete menu item


Mac

Mac: Best practices for making Excel spreadsheets accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Excel spreadsheets that are accessible to people with disabilities.

What to fix How to find it Why fix it How to fix it
Include alternative text with all visuals and tables.

Visual content includes pictures, clip art, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find all instances of missing alternative text in the spreadsheet, use the Accessibility Checker. Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to PivotCharts

Add alt text to tables

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips. To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan the sheets in your workbook. People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

TIP: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over a cell that includes a hyperlink.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips
Give all sheet tabs unique names, and remove blank sheets. To find out whether all sheets that contain content in a workbook have descriptive names and whether there are any blank sheets, use the Accessibility Checker. Screen readers read sheet names, which provide information about what is found on the worksheet, making it easier to understand the contents of a workbook and to navigate through it. Rename sheet tabs

Delete a sheet tab

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information. To ensure that tables don’t contain split cells, merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns, use the Accessibility Checker. Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Add headers to a new table

Use headers in an existing table

Add alt text to visuals and tables

The following procedures describe how to add alt text to visuals and tables in your Excel spreadsheets.

NOTE:  For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

Add alt text to images

Add alt text to images, such as pictures, clip art, and screenshots, so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

  1. Right-click an image.
  2. Select Format Picture > Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Picture pane describing the selected image

Add alt text to SmartArt graphics

  1. Right-click a SmartArt graphic.
  2. Select Format Shape > Shape Options Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected SmartArt graphic

Add alt text to shapes

Add alt text to shapes, including shapes within a SmartArt graphic.

  1. Right-click a shape.
  2. Select Format Shape > Shape Options Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Shape pane describing the selected shape

Add alt text to PivotCharts

  1. Right-click a PivotChart.
  2. Select Format Chart Area > Chart Options Size & Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alt Text area of the Format Chart Area pane describing the selected PivotChart

Add alt text to tables

  1. Right-click a table.
  2. Select Table > Alternative Text.
  3. Type a description and a title.

    TIP: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

Screenshot of the Alternative Text dialog

Make hyperlinks, tables, and sheet tabs accessible

The following procedures describe how to make the hyperlinks, tables, and sheet tabs in Excel spreadsheets accessible.

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

  1. Right-click a cell.
  2. Select Hyperlink.
  3. In the Text to display box, type the hyperlink text.
  4. In the Address box, type the destination URL.
  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

TIP: If the title on the hyperlink’s destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Templates and Themes for Office Online.

Screenshot of the Insert Hyperlink dialog

Use headers in an existing table

Specify a header row in a block of cells marked as a table.

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.
  2. On the Table tab, select the Header Row check box.
  3. Type column headings.

Screenshot of the Table style options on the Table tab, with check boxes selected

Add headers to a new table

Specify a header row in a new block of cells you are marking as a table.

  1. Select the cells you want to include in the table.
  2. On the Insert tab, select Table.
  3. Select the My table has headers check box.
  4. Select OK.
    Excel creates a header row with the default names Column1Column2, and so on.
  5. Type new, descriptive names for each column in the table.

Screenshot of the Create Table dialog, with the My table has headers check box selected

Rename sheet tabs

  1. Right-click a sheet tab, and select Rename.
  2. Type a brief, unique name for the sheet.

Screenshot of the Rename menu item

Delete a sheet tab

  1. Right-click a sheet tab.
  2. Select Delete.

Screenshot of the Delete menu item

For more information, please visit the Excel help center.