MS PowerPoint Chapter 5: Tables, Graphs, and Charts


Tables are not very accessible in PowerPoint. Most screen readers do not announce headers, and you can enter editing mode just to navigate it. In addition, there is very little semantic structure in a PowerPoint table. They are best left out of presentations all together.

Section 5.1: Creating Tables

If you do need to make a table, follow these instructions.

  1. Go to the Insert Tab, and select the Table Button.

    Tables button in Microsoft PowerPoint.
  2. Create a title for your table, make sure it is visible on the slide.

  3. Give your table real headers. Go to the Table Design Tab, and in the Table Styles Options section, check Header Row.

    Table Style Options in the Table Design Tab. The header row option is checked.

When creating a table, follow these rules.

  1. Only have one header row, one header column, or one of each.

  2. Do not use nested tables, split cells, or merged cells.

  3. Use text and backgrounds that give a good color contrast ratio of 4.5 : 1 or higher. Provide Alt Text (and a long description if needed).

This table has very poor color contrast and would be hard for anyone to read.

This table has a good color contrast ratio. This table is very easy to read for most readers.

Section 5.2: Creating Graphs and Charts

Graphs and Charts are very helpful for displaying information. To create a graph or chart,

  1. Go to the Insert Tab.

  2. Click the Chart Button.

  3. The Insert Chart box will appear. There, you can choose a chart or graph style. You can create pie charts, bar graphs, and more. When a chart or graph is made, you will see a small Excel sheet pop up. This can be used to edit your chart.

Section 5.3: Labels on Charts and Graphs

Data labels are very important for accessibility purposes. If data labels are not present, then readers will have fewer queues to help them read the information. Charts, tables, and graphs cannot be read by screen readers without their labels, so always add them.

To add data labels, click on your chart, and click the Chart Elements Plus sign in the top right corner. Choose which data labels you want to use. Next, customize them so they are visible but does not distract from the chart itself.

This table does not have any data labels on it. A person who is color blind may have trouble knowing the differences between the sections and categories.