Matrix Publishing Services

Welcome to Matrix 508

PDF Accessibility Experts

Skip to content
  • Telephone Number: (717) 764-9673
  • Fax Number: (717) 764-9672
  • Email us

List of Recommendations

Agency specific recommendations:
http://www.section508.va.gov/VA_Section_508_Best_Practices.asp
http://www.nasa.gov/accessibility/resources/res_howtos.html
http://www.hhs.gov/web/policies/checklistword.html

The following list is a compilation of agency specific recommendations and some of our own.

Best Practices for Creating Word Files for 508 Compliant PDFs.

  1. Use simple and clear design layout.
  2. Limit the number of elements and be consistent with applying the styles to those elements.
  3. Use system fonts when creating/modifying documents. It’s best to use Times New Roman and Arial.
  4. Select a font point size no smaller than 12.
  5. Use styles to associate attributes such as bold, underline, etc. with text. (Do not manually associate attributes to text).
  6. Use upper and lower case letters in your sentences. Using all capital letters is not recommended.
  7. Turn hyphenation off. The use of hyphens at the end of a line are not recommended unless absolutely necessary.
  8. Format your document so that all text (except for the title) is left justified when possible. Use block style (i.e., no indenting other than for bulleted/numbered items)
  9. Bullets can be used with lists and key points – avoid lists in tables.
  10. Use color only as an enhancement, not as the sole means of conveying information
  11. Format headings different than the body text. Limit number of heads to six levels (acrobat limitation).
  12. Create headers and footers using Microsoft Word’s header and footer feature.
  13. Use page numbering format codes to number pages within a document (Do not manually type page numbers at the bottom of a page)
  14. Use a hard page break code to designate the end of a page (Do not use the Enter key to move text to the next page)
  15. Explain all acronyms the first time they are used, or in a table near the front of the document if possible
  16. Ensure contrast is sufficient (ratio 4.5:1).
  17. Art: Add alternate text to non-text elements. Alternative text is not necessary when an image conveys no additional information beyond what is found in the text.
  18. Group complex images. Import all art as a jpeg.
  19. Ensure images are inserted “Inline with text”, rather than as a floating image
  20. Do not use text boxes for art.
    Photo of dog and accompanying window showing placement of alternative text.
    Each version of Word will show this window a bit differently. The above window is from Word 2010.
  21. Tables: Create tables by using the insert table window.
  22. Limit or eliminate the use of screens in tables.
  23. Text: Create columns using Word’s formatting for columns. Do not use the tab key to go from column to column.
  24. All edits in track changes must be accepted and comments removed.
  25. Delete unused content (don’t “cover” it with another element).
  26. Make sure the document is free of background images or watermarks that interfere with text elements
  27. Create bookmarks for any document longer than 10 pages
  28. All URLs must be hyperlinked with the fully qualified URL (http://www.xxxxx.yyy) and must be linked to an active Web site.
  29. Save your Word (source file) to a tagged PDF properly. Always embed fonts when creating the tagged PDF file.

Note: PDFs’ value is their “lock-down” characteristics which maintain their appearance when viewed on, or printed from, any computer. This is the primary reason both the public and private sectors have overwhelmingly adopted PDF as the format of choice. PDFs are meant to be difficult to change. Therefore, the source file should be finalized before making the PDF. Tools within Acrobat  and plug-ins allow a certain degree of editing but the effects of some edits can cause unintended consequences – some can be severe.