MS Excel Chapter 2: Styles and Appearances


Section 2.1: Color Contrast

When typing in text you want to consider the color contrast between the text and the background. For small text (under size 18), a good contrast ratio to aim for is 4.5:1 or higher. For bigger text (over size 18) a good contrast ratio is 3:1 or higher. Black text on a white background or 21:1 is considered to be the most accessible contrast ratio. To check if your color contrast ratio is sufficient, you should use Adobe’s Color Contrast Analyzer tool.

A worksheet of the longest flights in the world with poor Color Contrast.

This chart has a very low color contrast ratio.

A worksheet of the longest flights in the world with a good color contrast.

This chart has a very high color contrast ratio.

As you can see in the example, good color contrast makes the text easier to read for the viewer.

Section 2.2: Using Color to Convey Meaning

When trying to show information in a table, never use color as its only indicator. Some users may not be able to see color. Others may not be able to tell colors apart. The best way to show information is to have multiple indicators. One of them can be color, but the other should be text, either normal text or alt text.

This table only uses color to convey meaning. This table would be considered inaccessible because some readers may not be able to distinguish the colors and their meaning.

Section 2.3: Creating a Text Description

A text description is a description of your table, chart or graph. Screen readers are able to read you tables, charts, and graphs, but text descriptions make it easier to navigate. Instead of having a student run a screen reader through lots of data at various points, all of the data will be in one place.

  1. Move the location of your chart or graph to a new location next to cell A1.

  2. Click cell A1 and type in a brief description of the details in your chart. Then click the Wrap Text button to contain the description to cell A1. This will allow screen readers to explain the details of the charts to the readers and will make it easier for students with disabilities to understand the data.

Section 2.4: Adding Visual Queues

When using color to convey information, always be sure to add an extra visual queue. For many readers, color is hard to see, so they need another way to read the data.

To add an additional queues, click the chart. Click the Plus shaped button and add Data Labels. The Data Labels will appear, but they may not be the ones you want. The names could appear on the chart, but so could the numbers of sales, or a combination of both. In this example we want the names to appear over the data lines. To make this change,

  1. Click on the chart, and click the Plus Icon for Chart Elements.

  2. In the expanded menu, click on the arrow next to Data Labels and click More Options.

  3. In the Format Data Labels Section, go to label options and click Series Name.

Section 2.5: Using Cell Styles

Excel Cell Styles allow you to apply formatting styles to your workbook or table. Some of the formats include number type, alignment, headings, font, borders, fill, text, etc. These styles provide a very fast way to format your workbook to more accessible and easier to read. Follow these rules when using cell styles.

  1. When using styles, like the Bad, Good, and Neutral format, be sure they have a strong color contrast ratio between the text and the background. 4.5 : 1 or higher is best.

  2. Always follow the rules of the hierarchy. The Title style is used on titles, the Heading Style is used on Headings. Heading 1 should be used on your main heading, and Heading 2s are always children of Heading 1s.