Accessible Documents with Microsoft PowerPoint

Last modified 1/3/2024

PowerPoint offers features built-in to help you create accessible presentation content to share. The steps to creating an accessible PowerPoint presentation to distribute are similar to other Microsoft products.

Start with a Template

Where should you start? Start by choosing a PowerPoint template. Avoid starting a presentation with a blank template. PowerPoint templates have accessible formatting already built-in. If you do not use a PowerPoint template some people may have difficulty accessing your content or the content may be read out of order. You can check the order of your slide's content from the Selection Pane.

Add a Document Title

You should add a document title to your PowerPoint presentation files. A document title is different than a file name. The title typically matches the heading 1 for your document, or the main title if you have multiple heading 1s.

Type your titles in upper and lower cases. Avoid using ALL CAPS, and any internal review terms (i.e. My Document Title - FINAL; My Document Title - REVIEW).

Avoid starting with a blank presentation. The templates available have the formatting needed for accessibility already built-in.


Numbered and bulleted lists help break up paragraphs. If you find yourself using more than three commas to list things off in a sentence, try using a bulleted list instead so it is easier to scan for information.

When the list is formatted as a list, it is also easy to scan with assistive technologies. A screen reader will tell a person when they are entering and exiting the list instead of listening to the list as if it were a run-on sentence with dashes.

Links let people jump to a new location in the current document, open a web site, or open another document. By linking text in your document you can allow people navigate around or away from your document. The words in a text link should clearly convey where you are taking a person if they select the link.

Ensure any media linked to from your document is provided in accessible formats.

Add Alternative Text for Images

Images should have a purpose. The image's purpose must be conveyed through text either in the surrounding content or in an alternative text (i.e. image description, alt text, etc.). Microsoft Word allows you to add alternative text to images

Use Automatic Subtitles and Captions with Office 365 PowerPoint

Improve your next presentation by using Office 365's (online version only) PowerPoint presentation with live auto-generated subtitles and captions. 

Run the Accessibility Checker

When all is done run the Microsoft Accessibility Checker for a quick report on any remaining accessibility issues in your document. This will typically pick up simple accessibility errors like missing alt text and structure issues.

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