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Creating Accessible Printed Documents

en Español

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Readability

  • Use plain language. Plain language is the simplest and most straightforward way of expressing your ideas.
  • Consider your audience when writing material. If writing for the general public, aim for a 5th grade reading level.
  • Short sentences are clearer and have more impact.
  • Define acronyms and jargon on first use.
  • Use the active voice: Extension is hosting an open house. (Passive: An open house will be hosted by Extension.).
  • Words should be used for numbers from zero through nine, and numerals should be used from 10 onwards. This is true for both cardinal numbers (e.g., two, 11) and ordinal numbers (e.g., second, 11th).

Font

  • Use standard fonts with easily recognizable upper and lower case characters and medium heaviness (such as Arial).
  • Use bold to highlight a section of text.
  • Use both upper and lower case fonts in text; all caps make text harder to read.
  • Avoid italics, underlining, hyphenation, and excessive special formatting.
  • Keep your text large, preferably between 12 and 18 points depending on the font (point size varies between fonts). Large print material should be 18 point.
  • Consider your audience when choosing point size.

Color

  • Use high-contrast colors for text and background. Good examples are black or dark blue on a white or yellow background, or white/yellow text on a black/dark blue background.
  • Use colored text primarily for titles and headings.
  • Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning. Readers with color blindness will not be able to access all your information.

Page Formatting

  • Keep It clear and simple; and avoid large blocks of type.
  • Margins should be at least 0.5” but 1” is preferred.
  • Line spacing should be 1.5 or 2.0 (double-spaced) when possible.
  • Column spacing should be at least 0.5 (half an inch) between columns.
  • Left align the main text and use ragged right margins (not justified).
  • Reduce distractions by not using watermarks or complicated background designs.
  • Hyperlinks (underlined text or URLs) should clearly signal to the reader its destination. Relatively short understandable URLs may be used as hyperlinks.

Images

  • Reflect diversity and inclusion when possible; include people with disabilities and of varying ethnicities, cultural groups, and ages.
  • Use 12-point captions to provide complementary information about your images.
  • Include “alt-text” (clear and concise image descriptions).

Paper

  • Use a matte or non-glossy finish paper to cut down on glare.
  • Print two-sided documents on heavier paper so that content doesn’t bleed through to the other side.