Tables, Charts and Graphs in Documents


Use simple tables in the document. A simple table is a table with one column and row header. Complex tables are tables with irregular headers, merged cells, multi-level column or row headers, etc. Below is an example of a complex table.

Complex table example


It is best to avoid creating complex tables. To add an accessible table to your document:

  1. Go to Insert > Table. Click on the little arrow under Table to choose the size of the table.

    Insert table
  2. Insert the table with the desired number of columns or rows.
  3. To make the table accessible, it is essential to add header rows. Go to Table Tools > Design. Click the Header row checkbox to let the screen reader know that the table contains the header row. If you have row headers, click on the First column checkbox.
    Header row in table

Charts and Graphs

To create accessible charts and graphs, use the features available in Word. If you import the charts/graphs from Excel, they are inserted as an image, which means you’ll have to make them accessible before you add them. Follow the steps below to create a chart/graph:

  1. Go to Insert > Chart.

    Insert chart
  2. Click on the Chart and choose the type of chart or graph you want to use.
    Choose chart type
  3. Once you click on the chart/graph, Word will insert it into the document with an Excel pop-up of the data table.
    Chart with data table below
  4. Edit the data table in Excel to edit the chart or copy and paste the data from an Excel file into the data table.
  5. Use the Chart Tools on the top panel to edit the color scheme. Make sure the contrast ratio is valid (4.5 for AA and 7 for AAA). You can learn more about the color contrast on the accessible content page.
  6. To make this chart/graph accessible add a data table. Go to Chart Tools > Design > Add Chart Element > Data Table. Click on With Legend Keys or Without Legend Keys.
    Adding data table to chart
  7. This will insert a data table below the chart/graph so that the screen reader can better navigate the document.
    Grade distribution chart
  8. You can close the Excel pop-up. If you need to change data, you can access it again by clicking Chart Tools > Design > Edit Data.

    Edit chart data

If it is not possible to add the data table, you can make the chart/graph accessible by adding an alternative text. This is covered in the alternative text section.

Please note that some charts, such as pie charts and scatter charts in Word, do not offer the option to display the data table. In that case, you can add proper alternative text. You can also use the Chart Tools > Design > Add Chart Element > Data Labels > Data Callout option to make the chart readable by displaying the label along with the data.