How to Export an Accessible Tagged PDF from MS Office

These instructions show how to export a tagged PDF from MS Office applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Note: With Adobe's June 6, 2023 update, a major bug was introduced into PDF Maker (the Acrobat Ribbon) that replaces Alt Text with gibberish alpha numerics that are not compliant. On June 21, Adobe released a software patch to correct the error and now correctly embeds the Alt Text.

The new corrected Acrobat is version 23.003.20215 (PDF Library 23.3.247) and you can download it's patch at

Check your software version and ensure you're on version 23.003.2015 or later before proceeding.

Software used:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Adobe Acrobat DC Pro

Feel free to distribute the link to this tutorial throughout your organization. We want everyone to be able to create an accessible PDF. But don't steel it: this website's content is copyrighted.

Step 1: Make an accessible Word.docx file.

Accessibility always starts with accessible content. Our classes cover the details of making native Word and PowerPoint files accessible so that not only are the native files accessible, but also the PDFs exported from them.

See our current class calendar at

Step 2: Export a tagged accessible PDF.

3 methods are given:

Method A: uses Adobe PDF Maker from the Acrobat Ribbon in Word, which gives full control of how the PDF is exported, including fonts, compression and quality of graphics.

Method B: uses a less-detailed version of Adobe PDF Maker.

Method C: uses Microsoft's built-in PDF export utility.

Method A:
Use the Adobe Acrobat PDF Maker plug-in
(Windows only)

Update: as of Acrobat version 23.003.20201 released on June 6, 2023, this method has a severe bug. Use method C until further notice.

  1. From the Acrobat Ribbon in Office, select the Preferences button. This is where you'll set the options that will be built into the PDF.
    Word interface shows the Acrobat Ribbon and the buttons for Preferences and Create PDF.
  2. Set the General settings as shown: Preferences dialogue box number 1. Check these options: View Adobe PDF result. Prompt for Adobe PDF file name. Convert Document Information. Create Bookmarks. Add Links. Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF.
  3. Drill down into the Advanced settings and set the options to embed your fonts (subsetted if less than 100%).
    Interface shows the Advanced Settings button.

    Interface shows the Fonts section of the Advanced Settings. Check these settings: Embed all fonts. Embed OpenType fonts. Subset embedded fonts when percent of characters used is less than 100%. Also remove fonts listed in the fields labled Always Embed and Never Embed.
  4. Save the preference settings and return to the Acrobat Ribbon. Select the Create PDF button. Follow the prompts from there.
    Word's interface showing the Acrobat Ribbon. Selec the Create PDF button (or menu item).

Method B:
Use the Adobe Acrobat PDF Maker plug-in
(Windows only)

Update: as of Acrobat version 23.003.20201 released on June 6, 2023, this method has a severe bug. Use method C until further notice.

  1. From the file menu, select Save as Adobe PDF. Look for the trademarked word "Adobe" which indicates that this will use a trimmed-down version of Adobe PDF Maker.
    Word's interface shows the details of the File menu. Select Save As Adobe PDF.
  2. Click the Options button in the lower right of the dialogue box to control the conversion settings.
    Dialogue box shows the Options button.

    Interface shows the conversion settings for Acrobat PDF Maker. Check these options: COnvert document information. Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF. Create Bookmarks. Convert Word Headings to Bookmarks (or either of hte other 2 options after it).
  3. Select OK/Save to exit the preferences and follow the prompts to save your document.

Method C:
Use the built-in Microsoft conversion utility
(Windows and Mac)

Use this method to get around the bug in Acrobat version 23.003.20201 released on June 6, 2023.

  1. From the file menu, Select File / Save As.
    Word interface shows the File menu and the Save As button.
  2. In the next dialogue box, indicate where the file should be saved and the file name you want to give it. Also check the options shown. And then click the Options button to set the conversion settings.
    The Save As dialogue box. Select Save As Type and choose PDF as the file format. Also check to optimize for Standard publishing online and printing, Open file after publishing. And select the Options button to set the accessibility conversion settings.
  3. In Options, set these options:
    The conversion Options dialogue box. Check Create bookmarks using Headings; Document properties; Document structure tags for accessibility. Be sure to un-check the option to Bitmap text when fonts many not be embedded because this kills all accessibility.
  4. Click OK/Save where prompted to exit the dialogue boxes and create the PDF.


Untitled Document

Logo, Pub Com dot com.

Learn to fish. Save money. Time. Hassle.

Our services help you maximize your technology, streamline your workflow, and seamlessly build accessibility into your digital publications. Our mission is to train and coach you so well that you no longer need us or remediation services.

By teaching you how to fish — and make accessible PDFs right out of the box — we hope to work ourselves out of our jobs!

PubCom has a full array of courses on accessibility topics, as well as traditional desktop publishing, digital media, and website development. We started offering accessibility training to the federal government in 2001 right after Section 508 and WCAG 1.0 went into effect in the US. That was 20+ years ago and we haven't stopped yet!

We’re committed to making documents accessible for government, academia, and industry. Nearly 35% of our fellow citizens have disabilities or impairments that make it difficult to use technologies, and they depend on our work.

Sign up for our upcoming classes or we can bring a custom curriculum to your organization that can train your writers, editors, desktop publishers, media designers, accessibility techs, and webmasters. Plus, we provide back-office accessibility services.

The takeaway: we know publishing, from editorial to design to distribution (print and digital) — and we're accessibility experts (Bevi Chagnon is a delegate to the ISO committees for PDF accessibility). We share our knowledge and help you learn to fish. Our little fisherman keeps us on our goal to retirement … someday! Well, maybe. One can dream.

Sketch: Our fisherman has learned to fish and is now inclusive and accessible. We teach how to make your documents accessible.

We teach how to fish!

""Drop us a line and let us know how we can help.