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Best practice advice for making new and existing PDFs accessible before publishing them.

First published:
17 November 2020
Last updated:


You should publish most content on GOV.WALES as web pages (sometimes known as HTML pages). This means that everyone can use our website. 

If you intend to publish a PDF, first check whether you can use a PDF file

If you publish content as a PDF file, you must ensure it is accessible. 

Improve the accessibility of a new PDF file

Use authoring tools and techniques that maximise the accessibility of your source document before saving it as a PDF. 

When using Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint, follow the advice on creating accessible documents

If you are using Adobe InDesign, follow creating accessible PDFs (on

When scanning a paper document, use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to produce a PDF that can be tagged for accessibility. For more help see scanned documents

If you are creating an interactive document or form, use form tools to add fields and other controls. For more help see interactive documents or forms.

Follow the image accessibility advice in images on GOV.WALES

Follow the table accessibility advice in tables on GOV.WALES.

Output an accessible PDF 

Make sure that you output an accessible file from your source document. 

When saving as a PDF, configure the output settings to: 

  • create bookmarks using headings
  • include document structure tags 

How to export to PDF from Word.

Improve the accessibility of an existing PDF file

Existing PDF files may need changes to improve their accessibility. 

Scanned documents 

Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to edit PDFs created by scanning printed materials. For more help on this see how to edit scanned documents (on

Interactive documents or forms 

Add form fields and other controls to convert your document into a PDF form. Add short descriptions to each form element. For more help on this see PDF form field basics (on

Tagging content

Tagging a PDF gives it a structure that can be interpreted by assistive technologies, like screen readers. Tags specify the reading order of a document and give useful information about other elements, like images and tables. Make sure your PDF is tagged correctly. For more help on this, see tagging a PDF (on

Images and graphics

Follow the image accessibility advice in images on GOV.WALES


Follow the table accessibility advice in tables on GOV.WALES

Check your PDF for accessibility

Use Adobe Acrobat Pro’s accessibility checker to scan your PDF for any accessibility issues. Find out more about how to check the accessibility of PDFs (on

You must correct all accessibility issues before you publish the file.  

You may need to return to the source document to correct some of those issues and export a new accessible PDF from the original.

Get specialist advice

You may need specialist advice if your PDF is complex. Welsh Government staff get help by searching the intranet for 'PDF remediation'.