Basic Principles

Whether it's a Word document or a presentation, there's a number of considerations when developing your document.


  • Use crisp fonts such as Verdana or Arial (these are examples of "sans serif" fonts)
  • Avoid scripts, decorative fonts, and shadows
  • Minimum of 12-point font is recommended
  • Use italics to highlight individual words not blocks of text
  • Avoid all capital letters. They can be difficult to read in continuous text, but are okay for titles or acronyms (MDOL, USA etc.)
  • Use "Styles" feature in Word which styles the text. This allows certain screen readers to navigate or scan a document. (See Accessibility Guide Word Documents for more information)
  • More on the use of fonts from Penn State Accessibility

Color & Contrast

  • The greater the contrast between the words and the background the better
  • Background images should be avoided
  • Colored paper should be avoided. If necessary, use yellow or other light colors
  • Do not use only color to provide emphasis. use bold or italics or both instead of or in addition to color.

Images, Tables or Charts

  • Charts and graphs should supplement and support written content. Explain fully, in text, all information that is contained in a graphic.
  • Images and graphs must have alternative text. See Accessibility Guide Images and Graphs page for more information on alt text.
  • Tables should be used for data and be properly structured with a header row

Links and Hypertext