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Table Structure

How to create an accessible table structure in Word, InDesign, or Acrobat.

This article applies to: Web Accessibility

Accessible Table Structure

In order for assistive technologies to read tables, they need to be tagged so that the columns and rows are understood thereby preserving the logical relationship among information fields. 

If information is presented in a tabular layout purely for aesthetic or design purposes and the information does not have a relationship in two dimensions, then it is not necessary to tag the content as a table.


Add Alt Text

  1. After a table has been inserted, right click or Cmd click on the table.
  2. Select Table Properties.
  3. Select Alt Text.
  4. Enter the Title.
  5. Enter the Description.
  6. Select OK.

Repeat Table Header

  1. After a table has been inserted, right click or Cmd click on the table.
  2. Select Table Properties.
  3. Select Row.
  4. Select Repeat as header at the top of each page.
  5. Select OK.

InDesign has a couple of video tutorials that outlines how to create accessible tables in InDesign.

Working with tables in InDesign (2015).

Working with table in InDesign (2014).

Adobe Acrobat

Complex tables must be tagged in Adobe Acrobat.

The tag structure for a table should be as follows:

<Table> - the Table tag

            <TR> - The table row tag

  • If the headings are horizontal, the first row <TR> should contain the header tags <TH>.
  • If the headings are vertical, the first column should contain the header tags <TH>, i.e. the first tag inside each <TR> should be marked as a <TH>.
  • If headings are both vertical and horizontal, both the first row and first column must be tagged as <TH>.

All other cells should contain tags for data cells <TD>.

There is an expectation for regularity in a table meaning that there are the same number of cells in each row and column. When exceptions occur, this must also be noted. To do this, navigate to the Reading Order tab, right click or Cmd click on the table and choose Table Editor. Select the cell that spans multiple other cells. In the Table Cell Properties dialog, indicate the number of Rows or Columns the cell spans.

Table cell properties with Header Row selected

About this Article

Last updated: 

Monday, February 3, 2020 - 2:10pm

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