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Answers to FAQs about accessible PDFs

It’s essential — and required — for all online PDFs posted by UCOP to be accessible for screen reader software. The UCOP Accessibility Work Group has compiled helpful answers to frequently asked questions about accessible PDFs. Learn the basics and get your docs up to speed!

Does my PDF really need to be on the web?

Many of us have a habit of posting PDFs when we actually don’t need to. In the past, PDFs were widely used to retain proper format for printing; with remote work, people aren’t printing documents as much as they used to. It may also be more productive and useful to post your documents in a format that allows more collaboration. Here are some tips:

  • Post documents that you’re sharing with your team or collaborators in an internal Box folder rather than a public website.
  • Know your audience: It may be easier for your team to collaborate on Word documents, rather than PDFs that are more difficult to edit.
  • If information needs to be publicly available, consider posting it as content on your website (where you can update it easily), rather than as a PDF.
  • If you have a report with complex formatting, consider posting it both as a webpage and a simple PDF report that is easier to make accessible. Check out these examples: UC Accountability Report for 2021 website and UC Accountability Report for 2021 (PDF)

How do I make my PDF accessible?

It’s not too hard to create accessible PDFs once you get the hang of it. UCOP has many resources to help:

What should I do with a PDF from someone else?

If someone gives you a PDF to post to your department website

  1. Check the PDF for accessibility.
  2. If it’s not accessible, discuss with the requestor whether it can be posted as content on your website, rather than as a PDF (see above).
  3. If the PDF does need to be posted, follow instructions to make it accessible (PDF) or ask the author to make it accessible before posting it.

How can I get more help on accessible PDFs?

If you’re starting from scratch on a new PDF document, follow the guidelines for creating accessible Word docs — an essential step for later converting the document to an accessible PDF. For more assistance, visit the Accessible Documents and PDF page or ask


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