In certain circumstances tables are ideal for displaying data or statistics. For example, information that would be best suited to record or track in a spreadsheet.
Tables must never be used to improve the layout of your page and should be used sparingly as they are hard for screen readers to interpret.
If you are using tables for data or statistics then there are some things you can do in to make them more navigable and accessible. This process is very similar in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Apply a table style to an existing table
1. Select the whole table by clicking the select icon in the top left of the table. In Excel you will need to select all the cells that contain the table content.
2. In Word or PowerPoint, click on the Design tab under Table Tools on the top menu ribbon (or Table Design on a Mac). In Excel select Format as a Table on the Home tab.
3. Select one of the table designs. In Excel you should make sure the My table has headers box is ticked when promted.
4. Make sure that the Header Row is ticked. First Column should also be ticked if your first column contains headings rather than data.
Add a table summary (alt text)
To aid people with visual or cognitive impairments you should add an alt text entry for your tables.
1. To add alt text, select the whole table and right click and select Table Properties. In Excel select Table.
2. Click Alt Text
3. Add a title, this could be something like ‘Course applications 2019/20’
4. Add the description. If your table is quite simple i.e. a couple of headers and rows you could include everything in the table. For more complex tables it is ok to only include the important information. For this example:
“This table shows that 35% of applicants aged 18 to 19 were accepted on the course. While 48% of 20 to 25 year olds were accepted and finally 29% of 26-30 year olds were accepted on the course.”