Google Docs Chapter 3: Document Structure


Section 3.1: Creating Headers

Unfortunately, screen readers cannot read headings, unless directed too. If you need to make headings for a project, you should duplicate the text from the header. This will allow the screen reader to see the information and read that to the reader.

  1. Go to the Insert Tab

    The Insert Tab in Google Docs
  2. Select Headers & Footers, then choose whether you want to create a Header or Footer.

  3. After creating your Header or Footer, type in your information and duplicate. Place the duplicated info underneath the Title.

    A document with a header created that says Classified - Do Not Distribute. The text is copied under the documents title.

Section 3.2: Creating Headings for a Hierarchy

Headings help break up content, making it easier for people using screen readers to navigate documents. By listening to the headings first, they can understand what the document is about and how it's organized. Clear headings help blind users create a mental picture of the content. When creating headings, there are a couple of rules that need to be followed.

Rule 1: Make your Headings Descriptive

Your headings need to provide some detail about what the content will be about. This rule applies to all headings of any place in a hierarchy or title. Instead of using generic headings like “Day 1” or “Part 1”, try including more details.

This example lacks important details. The headings say too little about what their section is about.

This example shows headings that are more descriptive. Now when a screen reader reads the section to the reader they will know some info about what section they will read.

Rule 2: Use Text Styles

A common practice for making headings is to make the text very big and bold. While that does make the content look like a heading, it is still not a real heading. Text Styles are used to make the text be seen as a heading in its code. That way when a screen reader scans over the heading, it will be read as one. You can use text styles for Normal Text, several Heading sizes, Titles, and many other types of text. Text Styles can also change the size of the text, the spacing, and the color of the font.

Follow these steps to add text styles for your text.

  1. Type in your headings, in this example, we will use an essay on The History of Baseball. Be sure that your text is descriptive enough that readers will know what is happening in each section.

  2. Highlight your text at the top. Go to the “Styles” box in the Main Tool Bar and select “Title”. Note, you do have the ability to change the styles font. You can do this by highlighting your text and right clicking the style you are using. Then click Update “Title”, “Heading”, “Text” to Selection.

  3. Highlight your text that you want for your first group. In this case we will use “Introduction” Go back to the “Styles Panel” and click “Heading 1”.

  4. Highlight your text that will be in a group. In this case, it will be all 7 of the baseball eras. Go back to the “Styles Panel” and click “Heading 2”.

  5. Your hierarchy is established, and now readers will be able to tell where the section starts and ends. Be sure to open the Navigation Panel to be sure the hierarchy is established. The items in with Heading 2 must be under the items with Heading 1.

In this example, the headings are listed with a meaningful style.

Section 3.3: Table of Contents

Once you have finished writing an essay, book, syllabus, project, it is time to create a Table of Contents. A Table of Contents is very beneficial because it will give screen readers an outline of the project. Screen readers can read the outline to the reader without having to read dozens of pages of text. To create a Table of Contents,

  1. Go to the Insert Tab and click Table of Contents.

  2. The Table of Contents has been created. It will look like the Outliner on the left side of the screen, and it includes page numbers. This is a good way to be sure that all of your content is in the correct order.

  3. Once you have your Table of Contents, you can customize it to the way you like it. Just be sure that you follow the accessibility guidelines while making changes.

Section 3.4: Columns

Screen readers can read columns as long as they are created in the layout tab. Keep in mind that screen readers will read the left column first, then the right column by default. To add columns,

  1. Go to the Format tab. Do not use the tab key.

  2. Click Columns and create two columns.

Section 3.5: Adding Footnotes

If you are using footnotes in your document, they need to be created through the Insert Tab. Endnotes are read as normal text but are not automatically read. Screen readers like NVDA will announce their presence and the user can choose to read them.

  1. Highlight your text.

  2. Go to the Insert Tab and click Footnote.

  3. Type in a label for your footnote at the bottom of the page.

Section 3.6: Adding Page Numbers

Page Numbers are very beneficial because they help readers navigate your project and know what page they are on. To add page numbers,

  1. Go to the Insert Tab.

  2. Click Page Numbers and choose your format.

Section 3.7: Specifying the Language

You can choose from more than 100 languages in Google for your project. To manually change the language,

  1. Click the File Tab.

  2. Click Language and select the language you are using. Google Docs gives you several languages to choose from.

Section 3.8: Specify Language of Parts

Google Docs allows you to have two languages in a single document. Keep in mind that a spell checker will only work for one language at a time.