Creating Accessible PDFs with Adobe Indesign

Below you can find detailed information on creating accessible PDFs with Adobe Indesign.

Interactive PDF

 Setup for creating an Interactive PDF

  1. Select file, export, save as, interactive PDF.

  2. Enable the check boxes for create tagged PDF and use structure for tab order.

  3. Set desired view and layout options.  

  4. Add a title to the document under the advanced tab.

Setup for creating an Print PDF

  1. Select file, export, and save as print pdf. 

  2. Under the general tab select check boxes for create tagged PDF, bookmarks, and hyperlinks.

  3.  Add a title under the advanced tab. 

  4. Ensure language definition is set to english.

Add Required Metadata

  1. Add metadata by navigating to file, file Info. 

  2. Add Document title, author, and description.

Formatting Tables

  1. Use the text tool to format tables .

  2. To select the entire table by clicking the upper right corner of the table.

  3. See table styles by navigating to window, styles, and table styles.

  1. Open the hyperlinks window by selecting window, interactive, and hyperlink.

  2. Add hyperlinks by selecting the page icon below. Then select best link to option.

  3. Match hyperlink to match your design by selecting character styles, right click link, and choose color.

Accessible Lists

  1. Select the bulleted paragraph option.

Tagging Indesign File

  1. Select window and articles.

  2. Drag each section of the article into the article window. This will tag the document in hierarchy. 

  3. If the document is threaded together you don’t have to bring over every element.

  4. Then enable the use for reading order in tagged PDF.


Create Captions  

  1. Select objects, captions, and caption setup.

Adding Alt Text On Images

  1. Add alt text by navigating to object, object export options, and add alt text to images.

Adding Cross Reference

  1. Setup cross-references to allow references to be navigable by users of assistive software.

  2. Select window, type & tables, cross references. 

  3. Then add a cross-reference format by clicking the layer icon at the bottom of the panel.

  4. Select desired paragraph styles and paragraph text styles.

  5. Add your own custom styles by clicking the pencil icon next to format.


  1. Add your own custom text by adding text before “<fullpara/>” and after  <pageNum/>.

  2. Click the plus sign to format the reference display.

Accessible Table Of Contents

  1. Select layout, table of contents, and more options to access the table of contents menu.

  2. For this option to work the document must be stylized with paragraph styles throughout the document.

  3. Add a title to the table of contents.

  4. Then select the appropriate styles, and add them to table of contents.

  5. To stylize the extracted data, select desired setting under the entry style.

  6. Selecting the check box for the create PDF bookmarks, this creates clickable links which allows assistive technology to be used.

  7. Click the save style to save the configuration for futures projects.

Alternative Text for Images and Graphics

  1. Add alternative text to an image by selecting the image, object, set alt text source, and type in text name.

Method 1

Method 2

      2.Pull description from metadata by selecting XMP:Description option

Alternative Text For Objects

  1. Select custom from the alt text source panel , and add the desired description.

Artifact Objects

  1. Some images and objects you may not want to be tagged. 

  2. This is typically decorative images which do not enhance the users understanding of the content. 

  3. To have assistive technology ignore this type of content.

  4. Select the tagged PDF and choose artifact from the drop down menu.

PDF Bookmarks

  1. Open the bookmark panel by selecting window, interactive, and bookmarks.

  2. Select some text, and add content to the bookmark panel.

Generate Bookmarks Automatically

  1. Select layout, table of contents, and enable create PDF contents check box.


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