Checklist for MS Outlook Messages

Please note that all links open in a new window, so you can read an explanation, close the window and continue reviewing your checklist. The keyboard command to close the current window is Control + F4.

Checklist compiled from information found in the Microsoft accessibility pages, opens in a new window and the 508 checklist, opens in a new window
provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.


Outlook supports 3 formats to send and receive e-mail messages, HTML, Rich Text Format and Plain Text.

  1. Rich Text: Is only compatible with Outlook and Microsoft Exchange and consequently not a recommended format for consistency across email platforms.
  2. Plain Text: Does not support any formatting, including font size, but is nevertheless one of the most reliable ways to guarantee your email is readable by any platform and is very accessible.
  3. HTML is Outlook’s default format. One of the best ways to ensure your email is accessible in this format is to avoid over (or any) personalization. Microsoft Office products already use sans serif fonts, accessible color schemes, and semantically tagged styles by default. Merely increasing the font size to 12 or 14 points is enough to ensure broad accessibility.

Important: Be careful when pasting content into an email from other sources. This can often bring inaccessible formatting into the message. If unsure of the source formatting use the “Keep Text Only” option when pasting and then add any desired formatting using the standard Outlook composition tools contained in this checklist.

Download Accessible MS Outlook Checklist

Message basics

I used a sans serif Typeface/Font of a minimum of 12 point

I avoided using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines

I included ample white space between sentences and paragraphs

I use sufficient contrast for text and background colors

Message Structure

I used built-in tools to create headings

I use built-in tools to create bulleted list and ordered lists

I used a simple table structure, and specified column header information

Visuals, color and hyperlinks

I added alt text to visuals and tables that are part of my communication (message body)

I made sure I attached and gave descriptive names to all images intended for purposes other than my communication

I made sure color is not the only means of conveying information in my message

I created descriptive hyperlinks and screen tips