Accessible Tables

Add Table Titles

Add a title to the row before each table to inform users of its content. For example, “Table 1: Annual Meeting Expenses”, or “Table 2: Extra Charges”.

Example of a table title before a table

Create Tables Using Built-In Tools

Use one of the two methods below to create/insert tables. This ensures screen readers can identify them and read their information correctly.

NOTE: As it is the case with other text, justify your table to the left.

Method 1: Insert a Table

This method works best if you have not already input data in the cells and want to create a blank table from scratch.

  1. Decide where you want your table and select that entire area.
  2. In the ribbon, go to: Insert > Table, or press the key command Alt + M, T.Example of Insert Table option in Insert tab
  3. In the dialogue box, select the checkbox “My table has headers” and press OK.Example of My Table Has Headers checkbox

Method 2: Format as a Table

This method works best if you have already put your data in the cells before creating a table.

  1. Decide where you want your table and select that entire area.
  2. In the top home ribbon, go to: Home > Styles > Format as Table  > Select a Table Style and Color or press the key command Alt + H, T, and select a table option.Example of Format as a Table option in the Home/Styles tab


3. Make sure “My table has headers” is selected.Example of My Table Has Headers checkbox

Select a High Contrast Table Style

Dark table styles make it difficult for people to see the text on rows with the alternating color. For visual clarity, we recommend selecting a table that alternates dark and light colors, for instance, table style Light 16. It provides white rows with black text alternate with light blue rows with black text. This, or a similar high contrast combination, provide alternating colors that help with visual tracking, while not interfering with contrast on the colored rows.

Define the Name of Rows and Columns

Defining the names of rows and columns enables screen readers to get header information for the column and row they are navigating. This step is very important for an end user using screen reader technology.

Define the name of your headers and rows by doing the following:

  1. Move your cursor to the top left cell in your table. This is the intersection for the column and row headers. Example of Row and Column intersection highlighted in red
  2. Go to Formulas > Define Name, or press the key commands Alt +M, M, and press Enter.

Example of Define Name button in the Formulas tab

In the “New Name” field, type: TitleRegion1 immediately followed by two periods (..) and the coordinates of the last cell in your table. Note that the Name Field does not accept spaces.

Example of table name in the Define Name field

NOTE: In this sample, the final cell of the table isD10, yours may be different.

  1. Press ENTER to close the dialog box.

Subsequent Table Names

For subsequent tables in the workbook, you define the name as cell, cell, and so on.

Example of a subsequent table name

Editing Row or Column Names

We suggest defining the name of your rows and columns when you finish laying out your table, however, if you change a worksheet so that the row or column titles are in different locations, you can edit or delete the existing names by doing the following:

  1. Go to Formulas > Name Manager or press the key command Alt + M, N.
  2. To edit a listing, select it in the list, and press the Edit Button or key command Alt + E.
  3. Edit the region name and press the OK Button.

Example of Name Manager dialogue in the Formulas tab


Go Back to Topic 1: Format Basics

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