Module 3, Lesson 6: Tables and charts (PC) Windows icon

If you use a Mac, click this link to go to the PowerPoint 2016 for Mac module.

We will cover tables first, but you can scroll down for info on charts.

What are tables?

Tables can be great ways to organize information so it is clearer and more easily digestible. The reader's eyes can scan across and down rows and columns quickly, instead of reading a paragraph. Simple tables (tables with one row of headings or one column of headings or both) are usually the easiest for screen reading software (like JAWS) to decipher.

Why are accessible tables necessary?

Assistive technology, such as screen readers (JAWS), read tables in a linear form. For example, the screen reader begins reading from the first row of the table and then progresses left to right across the columns. When the row ends, it continues to the start of the second row, and so forth.

Also, screen readers always assume that the first row and column of a table contain heading information. Use Styles to designate which row(s) and column(s) are your headers. For help with using Styles, visit Module 2, Lesson 2: Styles.

If the table continues on to another page, make sure to turn on the "Repeat Header Rows" function. See below for instructions on how to do this.

How do I create accessible tables?

  1. Click the Insert tab located at the top of the screen. Then click the "Table" button.
    Insert table button

  2. Move the mouse over the desired number of rows and columns and click.
    Set table dimensions

  3. Once the table appears on the screen, select the top row with your mouse. This will be your header row.

  4. Click the Design tab. (Note: This tab will only appear if you are working within your table. Click anywhere on the table to select it, and you should see the Table Tools tab appear.)
    Design tab

  5. At the top left-hand side of the screen, check to make sure the "Header Row" button is checked.
    Header row button

  6. Now click on the Layout tab, which is located next to the Design tab.
    table tools layout tab

  7. On the top right-hand side, click the Repeat Header Rows button.
    Repeat header rows button

Accessible charts and graphs

Just like with images, if your presentation includes charts or graphs you must add alternate text (alt text) to explain their meaning, or provide a link to a longer description. For more information on what alt text is, see Module 3 - PC Lesson 4 - Images.

To add alt text to your chart or graph:

  1. Move your cursor outside of the data area. A safe place is right next to the chart title area.
    Outside the data area

  2. Right-click and select Format Chart Area.
    Format chart area

  3. In the Format Chart Area window, click Size & Properties.
    Size and Properties button

  4. Click on Alt Text.
    Alt text area

  5. Add a title and description for the image. The screen reader will read the title first, and then the description.


You have now completed Module 3: Accessible PowerPoint 2016 Presentations for Windows (PC)


Next: Module 4: Accessible PDFs

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