What is the best format for documents to be in?

Document format is a tricky question — there are a ton of different tools and different use cases, and it’s hard to give a simple answer that applies to everything.

So, instead, take these ideas into consideration as you evaluate your own use case:

  • Text is essentially the great equalizer — tools in people’s devices can easily take text and present it to a user in the way they prefer.  Good, accurate and well-formed formatting, like well organized headers in your document can aid in the presentation of the text.
  • Most modern document creation tools (Microsoft office tools, Adobe creative tools) have accessibility functionality that you can learn to take advantage of.
  • Relying on “Equally Effective, Alternative Access” versions of documents can be a good way to avoid a challenging problem with a document, but the added work of keeping two documents updated and in sync with each other will often create more problems than it solves, so use this option sparingly.
  • Some of us have the advantage of tools like Blackboard Ally that can take a document in one format and present it in another. It’s key to know what formats are most effective to those tools. In the case of Blackboard Ally, the functionality works best if it’s provided a MS Word document, so if possible, providing your content in Word format so that Blackboard Ally can generated alternative formats automatically is ideal.

Back to the Accessibility FAQ