Automated Testing of MS Word Documents

Installing Microsoft Word

Skip this if you already have Word installed on your computer.

  1. Visit and select Sign in to your account.
  2. Select the Install Office button to download office for Windows or Mac. It is also possible to download Office for Mac apps individually from the Mac app store if you don’t want the entire package.
  3. Signing into one app signs you into the rest no matter the download method.


  1. Open in Word the document you are checking.
  2. In your Word document, Click the Review tab on the ribbon, then select Check Accessibility. You can also press (alt+r), followed by (a), followed by (1).
  3. You can select Keep accessibility checker open while I work to receive suggestions and have the button remain in the sidebar.

Detecting Issues

When the checker is open, a tree is populated with accessibility issues organized by Errors and Warnings. Items of interest:


To view headings in Word, click the Review tab, followed by Navigation Pane. You can also press (alt+w), followed by (w), followed by (k). You will get a schematic representation of the heading structure of the document. Look for one h1, no heading jumps, proper nesting. Headings can be added via the Styles button after selecting the Home tab on the ribbon.

Note: In Word documents, it is recommended to use the heading 1 as the title rather than the title paragraph style, as this is more compatible with assistive technologies.


If you get an error about an image missing alternative text, you can add alternative text via the Actions menu, or mark it as decorative, if its meaning does not contribute to understanding the content in the document. Image descriptions are very context-dependent, and a good tip for creating them is to picture yourself describing the image to someone over the phone. For more information, see this article about alternative text on WebAIM.


Make sure links contain actual text describing their destination. The automated testing tool cannot test for this because computers cannot verify if the text actually properly describes the destination.

Tables Missing a Header Row

If you add tables to your documents, it is important to check the option to mark the first row of the table as a header row. This can be done by right-clicking the row you want to be the header row, and then selecting Table Properties. On the Row tab, select repeat as header row at the top of each page. This allows screen readers to read the headers properly as users move across the page; it also visually denotes the header row.

More Information

For more information on using the built-in accessibility checker, see Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker.