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 September and October 2023 updates, a major bug was introduced into PDF Maker (the Acrobat Ribbon) that misplaces <Figure> tags in the tag tree.
Instead of placing <Figure> tags where the graphics were anchored in the source Word.docx file, they are scattered throughout the tag tree, sometimes several pages away from where they should be.
Check your software version. If it has been updated to 23.006.xxxxx, don't use the Acrobat Ribbon to export PDFs shown in Methods A and B below. Instead, use an alternate method described in Method C. If your version of Acrobat hasn't been updated to 23.006.xxxxx, then DO NOT update it until a new patch is released by Adobe that corrects this bug. Check back here for details when its available.

Software used:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Adobe Acrobat DC Pro

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Step 1: Make an accessible Word.docx file.

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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 23.006.xxxx released on Sept 12 or Oct 17, 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 23.006.xxxx released on Sept 12 or Oct 17, 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 23.006.xxxxx released on Sept. 12 or Oct. 17, 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.


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