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How to Make Digital Assets Accessible: Spreadsheets

A resource to help you create accessible digital assets for your course

Spreadsheets used for teaching and learning must be in an accessible format so that people with disabilities using assistive or adaptive technology can access the information. 

TIP:  The Accessibility Checker checks your Excel workbooks for any issues with regard to accessibility. To learn more, visit Microsoft's website page on the Accessibility Checker.

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Microsoft: Creating accessible Excel workbooksGuidance from Microsoft support website on creating accessible Microsoft Excel workbooks.

Accessible U: SpreadsheetsBest practices and tips from University of Minnesota

Accessibility Guidelines for Spreadsheets

This is an overview of the elements that require special consideration when creating accessible Excel workbooks. Please review one of the Additional Resources for detailed instructions on any of the following:

  • Include a brief description of the sheet in cell A1.
  • Identify row and column headers with clear labels.
  • Give all sheet tabs unique names.
  • Avoid merging cells.
  • Use formatting tools (rather than blank cells) for visual design.
  • Add ALT Text to embedded images, charts, and graphs in order to provide a description of the item. Images that are decorative maybe tagged as "null" so the screen reader skips the image.  
  • Make sure Hyperlinks make sense without their surrounding content. For example, do not title a link "click here." Instead title with the name of the website or resource.
  • Do not use color as a means of conveying essential information.
  • Use color-safe palettes on charts and graphs.
  • Ensure the text is legible by using Sans-serif fonts and make sure your Color Scheme has enough contrast between light and dark. Avoid using orange, red and green for your template or text. 
  • Format line charts with varying dots and dashes instead of all solid lines.

Creating Accessible Excel Files

Additional Resources

Accessibility Check

To check:


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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