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Accessible PowerPoint files

We don't usually publish PowerPoint files or PowerPoint files that have been converted to a PDF on our websites. We explain why.

When to use PowerPoint

You should use PowerPoint to create slides to help you deliver a presentation.

PowerPoint slides are designed to be delivered by a speaker. It's an effective way to present visual information while you speak about it. Without someone explaining them, the text and visuals often no longer make sense.

If you have used PowerPoint to create slides to help you deliver a presentation, you may want to share it so other people can use it to deliver their own presentation. If this is the case, your audience is likely to be small and specific. To distribute content to small audiences, use SharePoint or email.

When not to use PowerPoint

You should not use PowerPoint to create a document that you are not presenting (eg using it to create a document file to go on one of our websites). This causes problems because:

  • PowerPoint is designed for creating presentations. Word processing applications, like Microsoft Word, have much better tools for creating effective reports, plans and other text-based documents.
  • Some PowerPoint content, like tables, can be difficult for screen reader users to navigate
  • PowerPoint files can display differently depending on the software a website user is using to view it. This can make the information in them difficult for people to understand. PDFs are better because they always display the same.
  • Using PowerPoint to create an accessible PDF can be difficult and time consuming. You will need to edit the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro to make it accessible.

We therefore don't usually publish PowerPoint files or PowerPoint files that have been converted to PDF on our websites.

Instead, use a different option that makes it easier to create effective and accessible content:

How to create an accessible presentation

Even though we don't usually publish PowerPoint presentations on our websites, it's still important to make yours accessible. This benefits:

  • The people you deliver your presentation to
  • Anyone you share the presentation file with

Here are some tips to help you make your presentation accessible:

  • Include a unique and descriptive title on each slide. Use a slide layout with a 'Title' placeholder, then add the title text to the placeholder
  • Use a clear, simple font and make sure text size is at least 18 point
  • Format lists using the bullets or numbering tools
  • Avoid using slide transitions
  • Only use slide animations to help your audience focus on specific information. Use simple animations that are short and don't include flashing or blinking
  • Make sure any colour combinations you use meet colour contrast requirements. The rules are the same as for colour contrast in Word documents
  • If you use colour to convey meaning, make sure this is explained in text too
  • Make sure links have descriptive and unique link text. The rules are the same as for link text in Word documents
  • If you use any decorative images (images that do not include any information) to visually enhance your slides, add them using the slide master
  • Make sure any informative images, including graphs and maps, are accessible. Follow our Word document advice on images, mapsgraphs and charts and diagrams
  • Avoid using tables if possible - even if you try to make them accessible they're still hard for screen reader users to access in PowerPoint
  • Check and adjust the reading order using the Reading Order pane

Automated checks

Microsoft Office has a built-in checker for each of its programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The tool helps you check how accessible your document is and can help fix some errors, but not all. It's not a guarantee of an accessible document. You must do manual checks too (read the 'How to create an accessible presentation' section on this page).

How to use Office's accessibility checker

Microsoft Support explain how you can improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker.

Other useful resources

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