Table, Charts and Graphs in Google Docs


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(header cells that span multiple rows or columns), merged cells, multi-level column or row headers, etc. Below is an example of a complex table. 

Complex table example

To help with comprehension, it is best to avoid creating complex tables.

To add a table to your document:

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

Insert table

Insert the table with the desired number of columns and rows. Designate the header row or column in the table. The table header helps the screen reader users navigate the table. The screen reader will read each cell and its associated header out loud. You cannot designate a header row in the table using Google Docs. You’ll need to download the Grackle Docs add-on). Grackle Docs is an add-on that runs in Google Docs that scans the document for accessibility issues. Follow the Grackle Docs Installation guide to download and install Grackle Docs for your Google account.

  1. When you perform accessibility testing using Grackle Docs, an issue appears regarding the table - “Tables must be tagged or marked as layout tables”.
    Grackle error example
  2. Click on the issue to expand the window and click on Locate +TAG button.
  3. A new window appears that allows you to designate a header row or column.
  4. Check Mark first row as header to designate the first row as a header. If your first column is also a header, check Mark first column as header. Click the Update button to make the changes. This will mark the first table row as a header.
    Grackle table header

This will mark the first table row as a header.

Charts and Graphs

To create accessible charts and graphs, use the features available in Google Docs. Unlike Microsoft Word(r), Google Docs does not have the option to add an automatically generated data table related to the chart. You should add an alternative text to the chart to convey information to the screen reader users, or you can create a table manually below the chart using the Insert > Table option. Follow the steps below to create a chart/graph:

  1. Go to Insert > Chart.
  2. Click on the Chart and choose the type of chart or graph you want to use.
    Insert chart
  3. Once you click on the chart/graph, Google Docs inserts it into the document.
    Inserted chart
  4. To edit the data within the chart, click on the link icon and choose the Open Source option to open your Google Sheets source data.
    Open source button in charts
  5. Clicking on the open-source button will open Google Sheets in a new browser window where you can edit the information for the chart data.
  6. Once you are done updating the information in Google Sheets, go back to the Google Docs document and click on the update button (refresh symbol) on the chart/graph to update the chart.
    Update chart button