MS Word Chapter 3: Document Structure


Section 3.1: Creating Headers

Screen readers cannot read headers, unless directed too. If you need to make headers for a project, you should duplicate the text from the header. This will allow the screen reader to see the information and read that to the reader.

  1. Go to the Insert Tab.

    The Insert Tab in MS Word
  2. Find the Header & Footer Panel and select your chosen header format.

    Header and Footer Panel with buttons to create a header to the left, footer in the center, and page numbers to the right.
  3. After creating your Header or Footer, type in your information and duplicate. Place the duplicated info underneath the Title.

Section 3.2: Creating Headings for a Hierarchy

Headings help break up content, making it easier for people using screen readers to navigate documents. By listening to the headings first, they can understand what the document is about and how it's organized. Clear headings help blind users create a mental picture of the content. When creating headings, there are a couple of rules that need to be followed.

Rule 1: Make your Headings Descriptive

Your headings need to provide some detail about what the content will be about. This rule applies to all headings of any place in a hierarchy or title. Instead of using generic headings like “Day 1” or “Part 1”, try including more details.

This example lacks important details. The headings say too little about what their section is about.

This example shows headings that are more descriptive. Now when a screen reader reads the section to the reader they will know some info about what section they will read.

Rule 2: Use Text Styles

A common practice for making headings is to make the text very big and bold. While that does make the content look like a heading, it is still not a real heading. Text Styles are used to make the text be seen as a heading in its code. That way when a screen reader scans over the heading, it will be read as one. You can use text styles for Normal Text, several Heading sizes, Titles, and many other types of text. Text Styles can also change the size of the text, the spacing, and the color of the font.

Follow these steps to add text styles for your text.

  1. Type in your headings, in this example, we will use our list of reasons for why accessibility matters. Be sure that your text is descriptive enough that readers will know what is happening in each section.

In this example, the headings are listed but lack any meaningful style. The list will not help readers notice the beginning or end of a section.

  1. Highlight your text at the top. Go to the “Styles Panel” in the Home Tab and select “Title”. Note, you do have the ability to change the styles font. You can do this by highlighting your text and right clicking the style you are using. Then click Update “Heading” to Selection.

  2. Highlight your text that you want for your first group. In this case we will use “Introduction” Go back to the “Styles Panel” and click “Heading 1”.

  3. Highlight your text that are going to be in a group. Go back to the “Styles Panel” and click “Heading 2”.

  4. Your hierarchy is established, and now readers will be able to tell where the section starts and ends. Be sure to open the Navigation Panel to be sure the hierarchy is established. The items in with Heading 2 must be under the items with Heading 1.

Section 3.3: Table of Contents

Create a Table of Contents after you have made all of your sections and subsections for a project. It could be a syllabus, a business plan, or anything. Once you have created your content,

  1. Go to the References Tab and click Table of Contents. Choose your preferred style.

  2. Refer to the Navigation Panel for guidance and to be sure that you have an established hierarchy. If you typed in your information and used proper headings, the Table of Contents can be made completely for you. If you made mistakes, you should definitely edit the styles and headings in your text. Make sure your hierarchy in the navigation panel is in semantic order.

Section 3.4: Columns

Screen readers can read columns as long as they are created in the layout tab. Keep in mind that screen readers will read the left column first, then the right column by default. To add columns,

  1. Open a Microsoft Word Document, and go to the Layout Tab.

  2. Click Columns and select the number of columns you want added.

Section 3.5: Adding Footnotes

Endnotes are read as normal text but are not read by screen readers unless directed to. Screen readers like NVDA will announce their presence and the user can choose to read them. To create a footnote or endnote,

  1. Highlight your text.

  2. Go to the References Tab and click “Insert Footnote”.

  3. Type in a label for your footnote at the bottom of the page.

Section 3.6: Adding Page Numbers

Page Numbers are very beneficial because they help readers navigate your project and know what page they are on. To add page numbers,

  1. Open a blank Word Document, and go to the Insert Tab.

  2. In the Header & Footer section, click Page Number.

  3. Select the page number style you would like. For this example choose Bottom Page > Plain Number 3.

Section 3.7: Specifying the Language

Microsoft Office detects what language your operating system uses. It then sets that language as the default for programs such as Word. To manually set the editing language:

  1. Go to the File Menu.

  2. Select the Options button in the bottom left corner.

  3. In the Word Options panel, select Language.

  4. Under Choose Editing Languages, select the editing language you want used.

  5. Select Set as the Preferred.

Section 3.8: Specify Language of Parts

If part of your document is written in a different language (for example, a quote), you must specify this. Here is how:

  1. Highlight the text that is written in another language, in this case, French and Japanese.

  2. Go to the Review Tab, select the Language Button, then click Set Proofing Language option.

  3. Choose your language in the pop up box.

For some languages (like Japanese) you may have to download other tools to get the language recognized.