PowerPoint Mac Tutorial

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

Choose a Theme
Slide Titles
Text Equivalents with Alt Text
Provide Contextual Hyperlinks
Check Reading Order
Run an Accessibility Check
Converting PowerPoint Files
Additional Resources

Choose a Theme

PowerPoint has built-in themes and templates to help make creating presentations easier. Use these whenever possible, as this helps with content structure and reading order. The slides have pre-set font and paragraph styles, but these can be modified. Rather than changing a style for each slide, a default can be set for the entire presentation. Default themes and styles allow for proper content structure and consistency.

  • From the main ribbon, select View.

  • Select Slide Master. Any change that is made within the master slide view will affect all slides that use that master.  

  • On the master slide, highlight the text you would like to modify the style for.

    • Right-click, or choose the Home tab. Choose Font. From there you can change the font, font style, color and size of the text

    • Choose Paragraph. From there you can change text alignment, line spacing before and after paragraphs and tabs.

      • Line spacing is the amount of space between lines of text in a paragraph. Users with visual impairment or cognitive disabilities have trouble tracking lines of text that are too close together. If lines of text are spaced too far apart, they seem unrelated and can be difficult to read.

      • Keep paragraph text lines at a spacing of 1.5.

      • The space after a heading should be slightly less than the space above the heading. To change the spacing select Line Spacing Options from the format menu then add or remove space before or after the element.

  • Select Close Master View when finished


Pro Tip

If you like the styles you have set and want to reuse them in each new document you create, you can save them as your default templates.

  • From the Slide Master tab, choose Themes

  • Select Save Current Theme

  • Type the name of your template in the Export as box. The Where field should direct you to the Themes folder.

  • Select Save.

Formatting Tips

  • Use 24pt type or larger for paragraph or bulleted text (headings should be larger)

  • Don’t use more than one font.

  • Use a font designed for the screen and available on most computers like Georgia, Verdana, Trebuchet, Arial, Calibri, Gill Sans, Corbel or Calisto MT.

Slide Titles

Each slide should have a title, as this helps assistive technology. However, you can choose to hide a title so it doesn’t show on the slide.

  • From the main ribbon, select the Home tab.

  • In the Arrange menu section, choose Selection pane. This displays all objects that are on a slide.

  • The eye icon next to the slide title will toggle visibility. Toggling off an unused title box allows assistive technology to detect a title for each slide, but keeps it hidden.

Text Equivalents with Alt Text

All images in a PowerPoint presentation should have alternative text assigned.

  • Select an image in your document.

  • Right select the image then choose “Format Picture”

  • Choose the Size and Properties tab

  • Provide a full description in the description box. In the case of the SUNY Oswego logo, you would write “State University of New York at Oswego.” If the image is more complex, like a chart, provide a title for the chart in the “title” box and a full description of the chart in the “description” box.

    • If the image is purely decorative and adds no additional information to the slide, check the “Mark as decorative” box.

    • As the designer of the presentation, it is important to know why an image is included, and the alt attribute should be generated based on that reason, or what the image is meant to relay to the audience.

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).

  • Right select and select “Hyperlink” or choose “Hyperlink” from the Insert Menu.

  • You can link to external web pages or to a slide within the document.

    • To link to an external page, choose Web Page or File, and include the full URL in the Address field (in this case, https://oswego.edu).

  • To link to another slide within the document, choose This Document, and select the slide you want to link to.

  • Select “OK.”

Check Reading Order

If elements are added to a slide layout, the order in which they are read by a screen reader should be verified. In the example picture below, the outlined image and text box were both added to the original slide layout.

To verify or change the order elements are “seen” on a page:

  • From the main ribbon, select the Home tab

  • In the Arrange menu section, choose Selection pane. This displays all objects that are on a slide.

  • Objects will be read back beginning with the bottom list item and ending with the top item.

  • Highlight an item name in the Selection panel to see which item in the slide it corresponds to. In this example, the added text box (textbox 8) is the first on the list to be read (because it’s at the bottom). This should be the last item to be read, so it needs to be moved to the top of the list.

  • To reorder items, use a mouse to drag them to the correct position within the list.

  • Alternatively, choose Reorder Objects from the Arrange menu section.

  • Use arrow keys or the mouse to move the elements to the proper order, with 4 being the first read, and 1 being the last read

  • By Textbox 8 to the top of the list, the reading order would be as follows:

    • Title 4 (“Check reading order!”)

    • Content placeholder 6 (Green logo)

    • Picture 7 (Black logo)

    • Textbox 8 (“An image and a text box…”)

Run an accessibility check

PowerPoint has a built-in accessibility checker.

  • From the main ribbon, select the Review tab.

  • Choose Check Accessibility.

  • A sidebar will open up that will identify errors and warnings.

  • Highlight each error for guidance on how to resolve each issue.

  • Address each issue one at a time throughout the document.

  • Select the Check Accessibility button from the Review tab again when you have completed each task to receive an updated report.

  • Continue to revise until all checks have passed.

Converting PowerPoint Files

When you save/export a PowerPoint to another format, like a PDF, it is important to note that your document may not be fully accessible in the new format (even if the PowerPoint is). If you convert your document to a PDF, be sure to review and revise that document in Adobe Acrobat Pro with its built-in accessibility checker (See Acrobat Pro tutorial). 

Additional Resources