ADA Compliance

In accordance with MSU's efforts to make educational content available to everyone, we ask that you do your best to make your ETD accessible. Accessible documents means that it will be usable by screen readers and other assistive technologies and will widen the scope of who can access your ETD. We hope that we are able to introduce you to creating more accessible professional writing as you move forward in your career.

We will help you through the process of learning about accessibility and making your ETD accessible.


Accessibility in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word can be used to create accessible documents. MSU provides Office 365 for Students if you need to download a newer version of it. We ask that you do your best to address all the the accessibility issues you can while formatting your ETD.

We have created Word templates with pre-formatted styles for headings to get you started; see the Standard Option or Manuscript Option webpages for these templates. This will do a lot of the spacing and accessibility work for you. Below the video is a list of tasks we ask that you address in order to make your document more accessible.

Introduction to Accessibility and Templates Video

Note: For a transcript of the video, visit the ETD Accessibility and Template Video with Transcript page.

1. Using Heading Styles

Heading styles make a big difference in helping your document meet accessibility standards. Headings organize a document so that people can find the content they need, or understand how a document is laid out. 

You can update the heading styles on your own document. Alternatively, you can use the Word templates created by the Graduate School, which already has the heading styles pre-formatted for you, and automatically does the heading spacing as well. Check out our instructions on how to use the Styles for headings.

2. Saving the PDF with Bookmarks

Heading styles are retained when converting to a PDF and creates bookmarks, which can be used by all to navigate the document in a clean and concise manner. Having a descriptive file name can give information about what the document is about. Please follow our instructions on how to save your Word document as a PDF with bookmarks.

3. Adding Alt Text to Images

Adding alt text to images and figures helps screen readers relay what the objects are in a document. For help adding alt text to an object, check out this short tutorial by Microsoft on adding alt text.

4. Document Properties

Editing document properties creates additional data about the details of a file. This helps with organization and identification of files based on their properties. It is also necessary to set the document properties to ensure that a document is accessible.

Setting properties such as Author, Title, and Language help identify a document. Find out more information on how to set document properties.


Checking your ETD for Accessibility

In Word: in the more recent versions of Word, click the "File" tab. Then click the "Check for Issues" button, and choose "Accessibility Check."

Please do your best to address any errors or warnings that come up.

In Adobe Acrobat: Choose "Tools" > "Accessibility." Then in the secondary toolbar, click "Full Check." Choose "Start Checking."

Please do your best to fix any failed items. You can right click each item and choose "Explain" for more information.



Accessibility with LaTex is tricky. LaTeX is commonly used in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering, which often contains equations. While PDF files created using LaTeX are not currently accessible due to these equations and other factors, using LaTeX can still be useful to those with or without sight. Those who require assistive technology and know how to use LaTeX may be able to read the LaTeX code, or the file could be converted into other readable formats.

If you are using the LaTeX template linked to by the Graduate School, we ask that you do your best to address any accessibility issues that you can on your PDF.

Converting from LaTaX to PDF

After you convert your final LaTeX version to a PDF, you must adjust your PDF in a few ways to make it more accessible:

  1. Please make sure the Document Properties are edited, to add such data as the Title, Author, and Language.
  2. If you have figures in your PDF, please add Alt Text in order to help screen reader technology identify the images.

More Information on LaTeX and Accessibility

For more information on LaTeX, equations, and accessibility, visit the following sources:


Formatting Questions

More Help

For help on accessibility tasks, visit our Formatting FAQ. Microsoft has an overview of accessibility video series to help, too.

For specific questions on ADA formatting, view our Formatting FAQ, browse Microsoft’s accessibility training, or email the Formatting Advisor.