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How to make PDFs accessible

Graphs and charts

You must make sure that any graphs or charts in your PDF are accessible, so no one misses out on important information.

How to check graph and chart accessibility

If you include a graph or chart in your PDF, it must:

  • Have a title - visible text positioned above the image
  • Have a legend/key - this should explain what any colours or patterns mean
  • Have axis labels - if the image has axis, they must have visible text labels
  • Have data labels - visible text showing the data type and volume
  • Have a text description
  • Be formatted as a single, flat image

All text must be horizontal. The graph or chart image must also be good quality, so it remains clear and easy to use when a user zooms in up to 400%.

Using colour in graphs/charts

If you use colour to convey meaning (for example, by using a key), you must use patterns and/or text to ensure that people who find it difficult to see or differentiate between colours can still understand it.

You must also make sure any colour combinations you use meet colour contrast requirements.

Example of an accessible graph:

A bar chart with a title, key, and axis and data labels. The key uses patterns as well as colour. The colours contrast well with the white background.

Example of an accessible pie chart:

A pie chart with a title, key and data labels. Each segment has a unique pattern and colour that contrasts well with the white background and border.

How to make graphs and charts accessible

If you find that any graphs or charts in your PDF aren't accessible, you must fix them.

Edit the source document

Most PDFs on our websites were created in Word originally. The easiest way to make graphs and charts in your PDF accessible is to edit the source document (eg Word), and then reconvert it to a PDF.

If you need to go back to your original Word document:

You may find our Word accessibility advice useful even if you used a different application to create your PDF.

Edit the PDF

Visit our PDF images accessibility page to find out how to provide a text description in a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro.

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