There are two types of tables: layout and data. Layout tables position items on a page; data tables present data in a grid. A data table must have a header row and include a caption or table summary. Simpler is better.

Tables in Documents

After you design your table, you will need to take a few additional formatting steps to make the table accessible for adaptive technology users, that is, you are marking up the document to give the screen reader software cues about what information is contained in the rows and columns.

Header rows

In whatever application and version you are using, look for a setting in the Table Properties panel that lets you indicate the header row, that is, the row that indicates what information is located in each column. In Microsoft Word, click the option that says “Repeat Header Rows” or check the box next to "Repeat as header row at the top of each page" from the Table Properties box >> Row tab (achieved by right-clicking on the table >> Table Properties >> Row tab). While the option does not sound correct, this option does the trick that makes the table work with screen readers.  OR 

However, indicating column headers in Microsoft Word is not possible, so if your table includes categories contained in rows, your table might be confusing to someone using a screen reader.

Table summary

When you include a table in a document, you should also include a table summary that describes the content contained in the table, e.g., “Lessons, assignments, and grade points available this semester.”

In Microsoft Word, hiding the table summary from the visible area of the document is possible. You can place the table summary in the Table Properties panel, under the Alt Text tab. The alt text tab has two fields, one for the title of the table and one for the description, as shown in this screenshot:

Complete both the title and description fields for all tables.

You can use the alt text for tables at any time. However, if you display the table summary on the visible page, all users will benefit from being able to see the description.

In general, you should only use tables to display data, rather than as a means of page layout. (To control page layout in documents, you should learn to use the word wrapping and padding features.)

Tables in PowerPoint

While visually formatting a row in PowerPoint so that the row appears to have header rows is possible (e.g., making the top row of cells bold and with darker background fill), there is not a way to mark up the row for screen reader software to be able to identify the header rows. For this reason, Webaim recommends sharing the PowerPoint file as a PDF and to tag the PDF with table tags in Adobe Acrobat.

Tables in PDFs

Properly structure your table in the editing software (Microsoft Word or other), save the document as a PDF, then open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat to tag the PDF for accessibility.


Article ID: 115375
Wed 9/2/20 12:36 PM
Wed 4/7/21 10:16 AM