Acrobat Chapter 2: Converting to a Tagged PDF


Section 2.1: Saving as a Tagged PDF

When you create a document with accessibility in mind, you can convert it to a tagged PDF. This is considered a type of automatic tagging because you have already applied accessibility features in the document. The features will carry over during conversion. Using this type of automatic tagging is good and will make your life easier.

To save your Word Document as a Tagged PDF,

  1. Click on the File Tab and click Save as Adobe PDF.

    File Tab in MS Word
    Save as Adobe PDF Button in MS Word
  2. In the Save As box, go to the Options Box at the bottom.

  3. In the Acrobat PDFMaker, check Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF and Convert Word Headings to Bookmarks.

Section 2.2: Creating Tags Automatically

Now you have to tag your document to allow screen readers to read it properly. There are two ways to tag your document, you can tag it automatically or do it yourself. To Tag Automatically,

  1. Go to the Tools Tab.

  2. Find the “Accessibility” Tool, and click Add.

  3. With the Accessibility Tool open, click Autotag Document

  4. The Accessibility Tags will appear on the left side of your screen. Remember, the software can make mistakes. So be sure to check every tag to be sure it is labeled correctly. Also be sure it is in the correct spot, and does not disrupt the reading order. You can see in our example that we do have tags created and many of them are correct. However, they are not in the correct order. To fix this issue, you can click on each tag and place them inside their “parent” tags. For example, place everything that belongs in your heading 2 tags inside the heading 2 tag. Then, place all of the heading 2 tags into the heading 1 tag. Examples on how to do this will be demonstrated in other sections of this course.

Section 2.3: Tagging in Adobe Acrobat

Tags are used to identify a contents value in a document so it can be read by assistive technology. By tagging an object, we are assigning a hierarchical value to an element. For example: An <H1> tag is used for Headings Style 1 or the main heading for a section or chapter. <H2> is used for Heading Style 2, most commonly used for subsections. In a hierarchy, <H2> must be parented under <H1>. Paragraphs or <p>, but be parented under <H2> or in necessary order. Headings must always be higher than paragraphs.

  1. To create a tag, click the Tag Icon  


  2. Right Click No Tags Available and click Create Tag Root. Now your first tag will appear.

  3. Click on the Options Menu and click New Tag.

  4. In our example we will tag Part 1: Introduction as a heading level 2. Click the Menu Button and Click New Tag, under type, select Heading Level 2. You may also include a title or name of what the tag is called. (This may help you keep track of what the tags are for)

  5. A new tag has been created, but nothing is inside yet. With your text still highlighted, right click the <H2> tag and click on “Create Tag from Selection”.

Section 2.4: Beware Untagged PDF Conversions

There are many ways to save as a PDF that produce inaccessible, untagged results. Some ways include,

  • Scanning a document produces a single image with no real, searchable text.

  • Using Print, Save as PDF on a web page or within an authoring software program produces real text. However, it does not produce tags.

  • Various options within Acrobat produce untagged PDFs. Examples include create PDF from Scanner, Screenshot, Web Page, and Clipboard.

Starting with one of these options is okay. But keep in mind it will take a lot more time and effort to then produce an accessible result.

Section 2.5: OCR/Scanned PDFs

PDF documents that are created by scanning a paper document are often completely inaccessible to people using screen readers. This is because they do not contain any searchable text. To make a scanned document an accessible PDF, we need to use an Optical Character Recognition tool or OCR. This will convert the image of text to actual, searchable text that can be read by assistive technologies.

Acrobat Pro DC has a built-in OCR Text Recognition tool.

  1. Go to the Tools Tab.

  2. Click Add Scan & OCR.

  3. Click Recognize Text, then In this file., then click the Recognize Button.

After you do this, do the standard tagging process and adjust the Reading Order and Tab Order as needed.