Understanding the Tags Tree and Tags Panel in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Last modified 6/16/2023

Document tags are essential for formatting content so it can be navigated and read logically by screen readers. The Tags Panel contains a tree-like listing of all the document's content. This tags tree shows the typical structural elements of the page in the order a screen reader should read.  If the content is not in the Tags Tree, it will likely not be accessible to screen readers.

Typical tags used in Adobe Acrobat
 Element Adobe Acrobat Tag
Heading 1<H1>
Heading 2 <H2>
Heading 3 <H3> 
Paragraph Text <P>
Image, Non-Text Content<Figure>
Table <Table>
Table Header  <TH>
Table Column  <TD>
Table Row  <TR>
List  <L>
List Item <LI>

Each tag should have a content box listed as a child. Select the plus box or arrow to the left of the tag to reveal its content box. If the content box is blank, artifact the tag.

Open the Tags Panel

To open the Tag Panel, go to the menu bar and choose View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Tags. The Tags Panel will appear on the left side of the screen.


Be sure to use Adobe Acrobat Pro and not Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe Acrobat Reader will not have the tools needed to make the necessary changes to your document.

Review the Tags Tree

In the open Tags Panel, review the tags tree. The tags tree must begin with a "Tags" tag. Select the plus box or arrow to the left of the "Tags" tag to open and close the tags tree. Notice some tags may be nested under other tags. Selecting the plus box or arrow to the left of any tag will reveal its child tags.

Screenshot of Tags Pane in Adobe Acrobat Pro with Heading 1 tag and two paragraph tags.

Tags not Coded Correctly?

If the tags are not coded correctly, use the following tutorials to help update your document's tags.

No Tags Available

If the tags tree is missing tags, right click the text "No Tags available" then select the Add Tags to Document option. This will auto-tag the document. The application will determined each tag by reviewing the document's font style, size, or spacing and may not be 100% correct. Be sure to recheck the tags. 

Tag Tree with No Tags Available selected and the Add Tags to Document option selected.

Check the Reading Order

Before publishing any PDF, check the reading order of the Tag tree to make sure the content flows in a logical manner and all the tags are correctly coded.

Select a tag in the tags tree. A blue box should appear over the corresponding element. Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate through the tags tree. Review the order the content is presented in. With some exceptions, content typically follows a left to right, top to bottom order, but ultimately the order should be logical.

Screenshot of Acrobat Tags Pane with a P (paragraph) tag selected in the Pane and a blue box around the top paragraph on the page.

If a blue box does not appear around the elements, right click on "Tags" in the Tags Panel then select Highlight Content from the menu.

Screenshot of Tags Pane with Tags selected and Highlight Content selected from menu.

Re-Order Tags

If the tags are not in the visual order (left to right, top to bottom) or not in a logical order needed for context, reorder the tags. To reorder the tags, select a tag from the Tags Tree and either drag and drop the tag into its correct place in the reading order, or cut and paste the tag under its new parent tag.

Drag and Drop

To drag and drop the tag. Select the tag you want to move with mouse, hold the left button down and drag the tag into its new position. 

 Screenshot of Acrobat Pro with a Heading 3 tag selected.

As you drag the tag over the Tags Panel a black line will appear in places you can drop the tag. Be careful to drop the tag under the correct parent tag. This action can take some practice.

Screenshot of Acrobat Pro with a Heading 3 tag selected and a black line under a Figure tag.

Cut and Paste

To cut and paste the tag under its correct parent tag, right-click the tag you want to move. Select Cut from the list of options. Right-click the tag above the place you want the tag to be added then right-click and select the Paste option. The tag will be pasted below.