Accessible Documents with Microsoft Publisher

Last modified 2/19/2024


In October 2026, Microsoft Publisher will reach its end of life. After that time, it will no longer be included in Microsoft 365 and existing on-premises suites will no longer be supported. Until then, support for Publisher will continue and users can expect the same experience as today.

The Microsoft Office text editor offers features built-in to help you create accessible content.

Where to Start?

Not sure where to start? No problem, follow these steps to help you create an accessible Publisher file.


Microsoft Publisher is not recommended for creating PDF documents.  PDF documents created from Publisher will require extra manual remediation work to be made accessible.

Format Your Structure

The structure of the document is important to convey. Assistive technologies, like screen reader and text-to-speech readers, rely on the underlying code in a document to tell the difference between a heading and regular printed text or when a person navigates into a table or a list of items. These cues help provide an understanding of how the document is organized.


Headings are very important help people navigate the content of your document. These are tend to be large and bold text. Though they sometimes could be a colored font, too.

Just making your headings visually big and bold is not enough. You need to add the underlying structure telling other technologies that "this text is a heading" and how this heading fits with other headings in your document. With the Microsoft Word Text editor, you can easily format your headings.

For more information on structuring your headings, check out our Headings Overview.


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.


Sometimes you may need more than one column to present your content.

Avoid using the tab key to make space between columns on a page. Assistive Technology will read document text left to right, top to bottom. If you use the tab key create spaces between columns, assistive technology will read across both columns before moving down to the next line. 

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

Adjusting the Reading Order

To adjust reading order, navigate to the Home Tab. Select Arrange group. 

  • To bring an object to or towards the front of the stack, select the arrow next to or under Bring Forward, and then choose Bring Forward or Bring to Front
  • Send an object to or toward the back of the stack, select Send Backward, and then choose Send Backward or Send to Back

Exporting To PDF

Once you export your Publisher File to PDF, check the document tagging in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Accessibility Checker

Microsoft Publisher does not currently support an accessibility checker. Find out which programs have the Microsoft accessibility checker.

Other Resources

Explore Accessible Documents with Microsoft Publisher