MS Word Chapter 1: Text and Fonts


Section 1.1: Fonts

MS Word provides you with hundreds of fonts to choose from. Some of them are good to use, but you want to be careful since many are not accessible.

How to choose a font:

  1. Go to the Home tab.

    Home Tab in Microsoft Word
  2. In the Font section, click the font drop down box.

    The Font section in Microsoft Word with the Font box highlighted in a red box.
  3. Choose the font you would like to use.

When using fonts, you want to use fonts that are easily readable and not distracting or fancy. Fonts like Times New Roman, Verdana, and Georgia are examples of good fonts to use. It is not recommended to use fonts like Algerian, Jokerman, or Script MT Bold.

While these fonts look more interesting, some users may have a hard time reading them.

These fonts are much easier to read.

Section 1.2: Font Size

To keep things simple and easy to read, make sure the font is over 12 points in size.

  1. To change your font size, go to the Home Tab.

  2. In the font section, select the font size button and select the size font you want.

Section 1.3: Capitalization

Screen readers do not recognize capital letters, so there is no point to relying on capital letters to emphasize text.

This example shows text with capital letters that are not needed. Screen readers will not emphasize the text even when it is in all caps.

Section 1.4: Bold, Italic, Strikethrough, or Underlined Text

Screen readers by default do not recognize text that is bold, italic, or underlined. The text will be read as normal text. There are settings available in NVDA to make the text be read as bold, italic or underlined. However, very few people change these settings. A good rule is to use these text attributes sparingly.

Section 1.5: Highlighting Text

When highlighting, it is important to be sure it is not the only way to convey meaning. Screen readers will not recognize the highlighted text as highlighted text. So it will only read it as normal text. A person using a screen reader may not know the difference, so it is important to include an indicator.

Section 1.6: NVDA Settings for Reading Text

When you use text that has a text attribute, be sure to modify the settings in the screen readers. This will allow the screen reader to tell the reader of any bold, italic, strikethrough, or underlined text. To change the settings,

  1. In NVDA, go to the Preference Tab, then click Document Formatting.

  2. Select the Font Attributes check box in the pop up box. Click Apply in the bottom right corner.

  3. In JAWS, you can examine the font attributes at the cursor, including whether or not there is strikethrough. This can be done by pressing INSERT + F.

Section 1.7: Symbols and Special Characters

You can use many different symbols and special characters. However, they must always be shown in regular text as well. This must be done so the screen readers will read the symbol properly to the reader. Here is a list of 17 symbols and special characters that are good to use.

  • The AT Symbol.

  • Ampersand.

  • Slash

  • Copyright

  • Registered

  • Trademark

  • Paragraph

  • US Dollar

  • Euro

  • British Pound

  • Japanese Yen

  • Percent

  • Bullet

  • Degrees

  • One Half

  • One Fourth

  • Three Fourths

Section 1.8: Creating Symbols

  1. Go to the Insert Tab.

  2. Go to the Symbols section and click Symbol.

  3. A dropdown menu will appear, click more symbols to get a wider variety of symbols to choose from.

Example of using symbols…

Section 1.9: 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 the highest and best ratio you could have.

To change the color of your font,

  1. Go to the Home Tab.

  2. In the Font Section, click on the Font Color button and choose your color.

  3. To see if your color provides a strong color contrast ratio, use the Adobe Color Contrast Analyzer. If you can get all of your previews to pass, then you can use that font color.

Section 1.10: Using Color to Convey Meaning

When using color in a project to convey information, you should include a text alternative.

Table Example: The text alternative must mean the same thing as the color.

This last example shows the importance of using multiple factors of indication in a Pie Chart.

Section 1.11: Background Colors

Background colors are fine to use, as long as they have a good contrast ratio. It is also a good idea to avoid strong background gradients or patterns. They can make the text very hard to read and are usually very distracting.

Section 1.12: Can I use Dropcap in a Word Document?

No, dropcap cannot be used. While it may look cool, it is not accessible for readers with visual issues. If dropcap is used, the letter itself would be read separately from the whole word. This would only confuse readers and screen readers.

Section 1.13: Acronyms

When using acronyms you need to type out the whole name in parenthesis after giving the acronym.