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Excel 2010 Quick Accessibility Reference

Formatting and Layout

  • Control white space with row and column sizing NOT with blank rows or columns
  • Give each tab in the workbook a descriptive title
  • Begin each worksheet in cell A1
  • If the workbook contains more than one worksheet place a worksheet in the first tab position that contains links to all of the worksheets and tables in the workbook to serve as a table of contents for the workbook
  • Following the final table on a worksheet add the text "End of worksheet"
  • If data entry by the user is required use comments, data validation, dropdown lists, input messages, and error alerts are used to help users enter correct data
  • The print area is set to reduce paper waste and set forms to print correctly
  • Use and input message to place help text is placed in Cell A1. Examples of good help text include the number of tables on the page and/or the row and column numbers of the header an total cells
  • Accept or reject all changes in the review panel before final document distribution

Text, Headings, and Lists

  • Text boxes are NOT used
  • Recommended fonts are used (Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma and Helvetica)
  • Font size is Arial 12pt
  • All worksheets are absent of flickering/flashing text or animated text


  • Tables have a logical reading order from left to right, top to bottom
  • Do not use tables with more than one column of row headers or more than two rows of column headers
  • Do not use merged cells within the data section of tables
  • Begin all tables in a single worksheet in column A
  • Do not have any empty rows or columns within a single table
  • Separate each table with a single empty row
  • Column and row heading must be in the same column or row as the data they represent
  • Use named regions within tables to identify major sections of data
  • The name Title is defined in the cell where row and column headers meet in tables having both column and row headers
  • The name RowTitle is defined in the cell range containing the row headers if the table only contains row headers
  • ColumnTitle is defined in the cell range containing the column headers in the tables containing only column headers


  • Use meaningful text in the "text to display" of a link - don use URLs as link text.
  • Use the fully qualified URL (i.e. NOT address of the link

Non-Text Elements (Illustrations & Objects)

  • Insert graphs and charts as separate worksheets
  • All non-text elements have alternative text descriptions that convey the same information to the user that the image convey
  • Images which do not convey information have a carriage return as alternative text
  • Complex images are grouped and alt text is added
  • Document does NOT use background images or watermarks
  • Drawings made with Shapes are imbedded as a PDF file with alt text
  • Objects are grouped and have alt text applied to them
  • Give meaningful labels to the title, axis and legend of all charts
  • Lightly shade input cells so they will stand out to users
  • Use high contrasting foreground and background colors
  • Prioritize information in text alternative: Try to put the most important information at the beginning

File Names and Document Properties

  • File name does NOT contain spaces and/or special characters
  • File name is concise, generally limited to 20-30 characters, and makes the contents of the file clear
  • Document Properties (i.e. Subject, Author, Title, Keywords, and Language) are filled out

Excel Best Practices

  • When practical, formula cells that affect cells in other worksheets should be indicated with a notation in a cell in order to alert users of the functionality
  • Whenever possible, avoid using two or more data tables on the same worksheet