Is Your E-Book Accessible? A Guide on How to Reach an Extra 3.8 Million Canadians

Reach millions of more Canadians by applying these tips. Share this easy to read guide on making accessible PDF documents.


Screenshot of a certificate of completion for Document Accessibility Training by Marta

Calls-to-action: “Sign up with us to receive a free e-book on..blah blah” Would you be interested to learn how to get those few extra downloads? Make it accessible. In 2012, 3.8 million Canadians reported having a disability (Statistics Canada), I’m sure one or two of those 3.8 million would download your e-book if it was accessible. If it was possible to get a few extra downloads just by applying some easy tips wouldn’t you do it?

In my time at the City of Mississauga I learned how to make accessible PDF documents. The picture shown is my certificate of completion, who the instructor was and the company that provided it. I don’t know the cost because it was covered by my employer (thank you tax payers of Mississauga).

Here is my simplified version of how to make accessible PDF documents. Many people with vision loss or reading difficulties rely on a screen reading software to read text out loud to them. Structuring your document for these software allows the user to access the information more easily. Use these tips when you’re writing white paper content, downloadable PDFs or if a customer reaches out asking you to convert a document in to an accessible one.

The reality is, many employees may not have the time or the desire (lets be honest) to really take in the information provided by a half day or full day training on accessible documents. The goal of this post is to make the knowledge simple so that anyone can learn, apply and share it especially (as the employer or colleague) if finances and time is a concern when considering comprehensive training courses.

All you need is Microsoft Word and a basic version of Adobe Acrobat. At the end of this post is a link of this guide which itself is an accessible document. Download it, read it and share it!!

Quick Tips to Make Word Documents Accessible.


It is important to use clear, legible sans serif fonts (fonts without curls) such as Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Helvetica, Gotham, Calibri.

Ensure that font sizes are at least 12pt.

Use contrasting colours, black and white contrast the most.


When adding images always add a description by right clicking the image, select format image and choose Alt Text and fill in the Title and description.

Try to minimize the usage of charts and tables but if you do add text summarizing the chart/table underneath.

When adding links, create a hyperlink, right click the link, select edit hyperlink and in the box “Text to Display” change the text to a short clear title.


Use preselected styles provided by Microsoft Word, always use headings instead of formatting texts using Bold (avoid italics),

Using headings will turn in to bookmarks when converted into a PDF file so readers can short cut to specific sections.

By right clicking a style, select modify, click format at the bottom, click font and change spacing (under advanced) to at least 1.0. Under format and paragraph change line spacing to at least 1.5.

Use periods and commas to create pauses (as seen in this guide).

After converting your document into an Adobe file, under view, select Read Out Loud to test your document

The link to download this guide is just below this line.

Quick Tips to Making Word Documents Accessible

What do you think of these tips? Would you add something or remove something? Let me know in the comments below this post.

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