Google Docs Chapter 1: Text and Fonts


Section 1.1: Fonts

Google Docs gives you 25 different fonts to use. Many of these fonts are accessible but some are not.

How to choose a font:

  1. Go to the Main Tool Bar.

    The Main Tool Bar in Google Docs
  2. In the Font section, click the font drop down box.

    The font dropdown box with Arial selected as the font.
  3. Choose the font you would like.

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 Pacifico, Caveat, or Amatic SC.

While these fonts look more interesting, they are very hard to read for some users.

These fonts are much easier for people 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.

To change your font size,

  1. Go to the Main Tool Bar.

  2. Select the font size button and select the font size you want.

Section 1.3: Capitalization

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

This example shows 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 and Underlined Text

Screen readers by default do not recognize text that is bold, italic, strikethrough 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, but very few people change these settings. A good rule is to use bold text, italics, underlined, or strikethrough text sparingly.

Section 1.5: Highlighting

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. This will be confusing to someone with visual disabilities.

Section 1.6: NVDA Settings for Text

When you use text that is bold, italic, strikethrough, or underlined, 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, by pressing INSERT + F.

  4. To make your screen reader read the document, go to your document and click on the Menu Search box in the Main Tool Bar and type in Accessibility.

  5. In the Accessibility Support pop-up box, check “Turn on screen reader support.” and click OK. An Accessibility Tab will appear in the Main Tool Bar. Now when your screen reader is active, it can read your document.

Section 1.7: Symbols and Special Characters

You can use many different symbols and special characters. However, only 17 characters can be read by most screen readers. The list of symbols and special characters that can be read are as follows.

  • 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

If you use other symbols or special characters, 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.

To create a symbol or special character,

  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 1.8: 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 Main Tool Bar.

  2. Select the text color button and select a color you want from the grid.

  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.

As you can see in the example, good color contrast makes the text easier to read for the viewer.

Section 1.9: 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 1.10: 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.