One hand holds a document while the other hand holds a magnifying glass. In the magnifying glass and accessibility icon appears, as if to signify the person is working to verifying the compliance of the document, or as the Title suggests,, How to Check the Logical Reading Order for PDF Document Accessibility Quickly

How to Check the Logical Reading Order for PDF Document Accessibility Quickly

Checking the Logical Reading Order

There are some important steps to take when verifying PDF document accessibility. You especially need your public-facing PDF documents to be accessible, full stop and without fail. One thing you need to verify every time is logical reading order. The Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat will check the Logical Reading Order and flag related issues, and is what many use to check this important aspect. Even today, it still requires a human to review the order to verify that it’s in a logical order. The tagged order should follow exactly the same flow that a sighted person would use in reading any document. In most cases, this means: left to right and top to bottom.

Steps to Ensure Reading Order for PDF Accessibility

  1. Open the ‘Tags’ tab in Adobe Acrobat Pro’s Accessibility Checker, or in axesPDF. NOTE: The only trouble with Acrobat is that depending on the issue, Acrobat might not be checking to any specific PDF/UA standard.
  2. Select the first tag, which should always be the title of your document. NOTE: There should always only ever be one title tag per document. Upon selecting the tag, a rectangle will appear around the content that it corresponds to in the document
  3. Use the ‘down arrow’ button to move to the next tag. This should move the rectangle to the next content you would logically read on the page, for example, moving from the title to the first paragraph.
  4. If the rectangle skips any content, this will indicate that you may need to create a tag or reorder the tag itself
  5. To create a new tag, highlight the text or image you wish to tag. Next: In the Options Menu, select ‘Create Tag from Selection’. Select the type of content you’ve highlighted (for example: paragraph, link, etc.)
  6. To reorder tags, simply open the Tags panel found on the left side of your screen. Drag and drop the tags into the correct order
  7. If the rectangle lands on a decorative item, like a bar dividing sections for instance, select the item, and then select Change Tag to Artifact. Then, select ‘Page’ from the Artifact menu and delete the tag. This will stop a screen reader from reading the element or item aloud to the user
  8. Once you have placed the tags in the correct order, it is important to circle back to the beginning of your document and hit the down arrow until you reach the end of the document, ensuring that the tags follow the intended flow and reading order correctly.

PDF Accessibility is Important… So Always Check Document Accessibility!

Checking a document’s logical reading order is but one element, but an important step. While using Accessibility Checkers like those found in Acrobat Pro and axesPDF (and other solutions) can aid in the speed and accuracy of checking document accessibility, a quick manual check is a quick step for assurance and peace of mind. While automated checkers are handy, they aren’t all made the same, nor do they all check to the golden standards. The human element is still relevant and necessary when it comes to checking for PDF accessibility and compliance.

If you need any help finding solutions for ensuring PDF document accessibility, CDP can help! Reach out to us at and let one of our experts help you with guidance on the very best solutions on the market. When it comes to desktop, enterprise, transactional or high-volume documents, we have your back. We’ve been in the digital document world as solutions providers since 1984.

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