MS Excel Chapter 10: Navigation


Section 10.1: Focus Indicators

Usually when using Excel, users can see where they are in a spreadsheet by looking at a dark green box. However, it can sometimes be hard to see. Fortunately, Excel has an add-on called RowLiner that can help readers focus on their cell. Unfortunately, there are limitation such as,

  1. "RowLiner will not draw lines in split windows or frozen panes."

  2. "RowLiner will not draw lines when worksheets are grouped. This is by design."

  3. "RowLiner will disable the Undo feature. This is a limitation imposed by the basic design of Excel and cannot be changed."

  4. "A few users, primarily users with European versions of Excel, have reported that RowLiner causes Excel to crash. The cause of this is unknown. I have worked with Microsoft support engineers to resolve this problem, but Microsoft cannot determine the nature or cause of the crash."

Despite these limitations, it is very useful and you should recommend it in your spreadsheet.

A spreadsheet with instructions to download a visual focus indicator.

Section 10.2: Using Comments

Comments can be very helpful for providing useful information. They are easily accessible and easy to find. The cells marked with a red triangle have comments anchored to them.

A table of the longest flights in the world with the cell for distance in miles for Qatar Airways has a red triangle.

Section 10.3: How to Add a Comment

  1. Click the cell you want to place a comment on.

  2. Right click the cell and click “Add a Comment”.

  3. Type in your comment.

  4. To delete your comment, right click the cell your comment is attached to. In the dropdown menu, click delete comment.

Section 10.4: Frozen Rows and Columns

Frozen rows and columns should be avoided whenever possible. Making a row or column always visible while scrolling can be accomplished through freezing panes. While this feature can be helpful to sighted users, it should be avoided when creating an accessible workbook as it can cause navigation issues for screen reader users. Users should also be alerted of any frozen rows.

This worksheet only has frozen rows and there is no alert.

This worksheet shows all rows and columns. This is an accessible table.

Section 10.5: Using Data Filters

If data filters are used, the user must be alerted in the Excel Document. Data filters can be applied to display information within specific parameters, which can be helpful especially if you ware using lots of data. JAWS announces the data filter drop-down controls, but NVDA cannot do this.

This data filter does not have an alert.

Section 10.6: Table Names

The names of Cells in Excel make it easier to understand the purpose of the cell. It also helps with navigating the workbook.