InDesign

Like any document, it is easiest to make InDesign files accessible for digital distribution when you plan to do so from the start.

Using Paragraph and Character Styles
Text Equivalents with Alt Text
Provide Contextual Hyperlinks
Adding Metadata
Saving as an Accessible File

Using Paragraph and Character Styles

InDesign has Styles that help determine what tags are assigned to elements, which ensures greater accessibility when exported to a PDF. Styles also help maintain consistency within your document and make overall format changes easier.

  • From the main menu, select Type.

  • Select Paragraph Styles. To bookmark the panel, drag and dock it into the panel sidebar.

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Paragraph styles can be used to style blocks of text; character styles are used for individual words or a sentence within a paragraph.

  • Open the Paragraph Styles panel. Select the Create a New Style icon (at the bottom of the panel, next to the trash can).

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  • A new style called Paragraph Style 1 will appear in the list. Right click on it then choose Edit.

  • Rename the style to reflect what you are styling, such as body copy, heading 1, sidebar, etc.

  • Using the various tabs on the side, style your text as desired. Any text that has that Paragraph Style applied will reflect the styles choices that are set.

    • Basic Character Formats tab:

      • Choose the font family, font style and font size

    • Indents & Spacing tab:

      • Set alignment and any indentation

    • Hyphenation tab:

      • Uncheck hyphenation box to turn it off

    • Span Columns

      • Set number and layout of columns

    • Bullets & Numbering tab:

      • Set the list type, bullet character or numbering style

    • Character Color tab:

      • Choose a color. Be sure to double check contrast ratios using the WebAIM checker

    • Export Tagging tab:

      • Tags content appropriately to ensure greater accessibility when exported to a PDF

      • At the bottom of the dialog box, under PDF, choose the appropriate tag for that style

      • Select OK to save style choices

  • Highlight text to be styled and choose the appropriate Paragraph Style to apply.

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Setting a Character Style is a very similar process. Character Styles are used for individual words or a sentence within a paragraph.

  • Open the Character Styles panel. Select the Create a New Style icon (at the bottom of the panel, next to the trash can)

  • Using the various tabs on the side, style your text as desired. Any text that has that Character Style applied will reflect the styles choices that are set.

  • Highlight text to be styled and choose the appropriate Character Style to apply.

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Text Equivalents with Alt Text

All images and objects in an InDesign file should have alternative text assigned.

  • Highlight object

  • From the main menu, choose Object

  • Choose Object Export Options

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  • Choose Alt Text tab, then from Alt Text Source drop-down, choose Custom. Type alt text into the box

  • Select Done to save

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Provide Contextual Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks in an electronic document should be embedded within the text to aid in readability and accessibility. Imagine you have the sentence “I work at SUNY Oswego” in your document and you want the words SUNY Oswego to link directly to the college’s website.

  • Select the text you would like to convert to a hyperlink (in this example, SUNY Oswego).

  • From the main menu, select Type.

  • Select Hyperlinks & Cross Reference, then choose Hyperlink.

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  • A dialog box will open. In the Link To drop-down, choose URL.

    • You could also choose to link to another file, an email address, a page within the document, etc. The Destination drop-down menu will change according to this selection.

  • Enter the URL under Destination.

  • You can assign a Character Style or create a new style. From the drop-down menu, select the Character Style or choose New Character Style.

  • Click OK to save.

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Adding Metadata

Adding metadata helps prevent some accessibility issues when exported to a PDF, and also can be used for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of digital documents. In this section, we are just focusing on accessibility.

  • From the main menu, select File.

  • Select File Info.

  • From the Basic tab, enter a title for the document. Accessibility checkers look for document titles. The other metadata is mostly used for SEO.

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Saving as an Accessible File

Using the Save As feature will not capture accessibility information.

  • From the main menu, select File.

  • Select Export. Navigate to where you’d like the file saved, enter the file name, and set Save As type as PDF Print.

  • Select Save.

  • An InDesign dialog box will appear.

    • From the General tab, enable the Create Tagged PDF checkbox.

    • If PDF will be available on the web, enable the Optimize for Fast Web View, Hyperlinks and Bookmark checkboxes.

    • From the Advanced tab, select the Document Title option under the Display Title drop down. Choose the appropriate language.

  • To save these settings for each time you export to PDF, click the Save Preset button in the lower left corner of the Export dialog box. Name the preset.

    • In the future, to retrieve these settings, choose the appropriate setting title from the Adobe PDF Preset drop-down menu.

  • Select Export when finished.