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Accessible Excel spreadsheets

What this guide is for

This guide explains how to create accessible spreadsheets in Excel.

You should use an Excel spreadsheet to publish data on our websites if:

  • There is a lot of data, and being able to use Excel tools like sorting and filters would help users understand it; and
  • You have a good business case for publishing the data. For example:
    • We are legally required or have a statutory duty to publish the data
    • You have evidence of high customer demand for the data

When not to use Excel

You should not use spreadsheets to publish small amounts of data, or content that includes a lot of text. This is because:

  • Excel is designed for organising data and numbers. Word processing applications, like Microsoft Word, have much better tools for creating effective reports, plans and other text-based documents. You can use Word to present data in tables and charts alongside text.
  • Some Excel content, like text boxes and embedded content, can be difficult for screen reader users to understand
  • Excel 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 Excel 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.

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

Responsibility for making web content accessible

Check who is responsible for making web content accessible.

How NCC staff can get help to publish accessible content.


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