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When you're creating a PDF that will be read by a wide variety of people, it's important to consider others who may have impaired vision or other disabilities that may be relying on screen readers to read out loud the contents of the page. To accommodate the widest amount of people, it is important to create a tagged or accessible PDF. When you add tags to your document you're adding an underlying organizational structure that helps people with disabilities without changing the appearance of your layout. US Section 508 Accessibility Compliance requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.
This ensures equal access for everyone. If you work for a federal agency or create documents for them, you are often required to do this. Accessibility can mean captions on videos or even alternate text for images on web sites or PDFs. Tagged PDFs are a big part of this. Right now, I'm inside InDesign CS5.5, but I want to show you the difference between a PDF created inside CS5.5 and a PDF created from InDesign CS5. To start out with I have to get this InDesign CS5.5 file down to a CS5 file.
To do that, I am going to go File > Export. Inside my Export I want to be sure to choose InDesign Markup (IDML). The format InDesign Markup or IDML is not new inside CS5.5; CS4 and CS5 had this. This is the way you can down-save or exchange documents between versions of InDesign. When I do this I'm going to select my Desktop and I'm going to call this cs5. When you export to IDML, any newer features like the Articles panel will disappear when you open it in an older version like CS5.
There's also a chance for text reflow, so be careful when you are exporting to an older version and opening. One of the good things about IDML is now we can go back more than one version. I can go all the way back to CS4 if I like. In previous versions of InDesign you could only go back one version. So this IDML file could be opened in CS4, CS5, and CS5.5. I would hope that in future versions like CS6 and CS7, you can use IDML to down-save all the way to CS4 and up to the latest version. This will make sharing documents a lot easier for all users.
So I'm going to hit Save and I'm going to open this inside CS5. Now I've got this file open inside CS5. Now I'm going to go to File > Export. We'll throw this on my Desktop, and I'm going to call this cs5 and we're going to go to Adobe PDF ( Interactive). We'll click Save. I'm going to be sure to include View PDF after Exporting and Create a Tagged PDF. This way we can compare the tagging from CS5 to CS5.5. We'll click OK.
I'm inside Acrobat Professional, but you could also view this inside the free Adobe Reader. Now looking at this file, it looks exactly like it did inside the Print layout, but what I want to do is compare the tags. Now looking over at the left-hand side I don't see any tags, but what I can do is if I right-click my mouse, I can choose Tags and see the Tags panel. We're going to see a lot of information. We can't make heads or tail of what's going on in here. I'm confused. Everything says Story or Span and I don't know where anything is. To further illustrate the point, let's look at the Read Out Loud feature to show or rather hear what's going on.
We're going to go to View > Read Out Loud and we're going to Activate Read Out Loud. Now we are going to have Acrobat read us back this PDF, View > Read Out Loud > Read This Page Only. (Screen Reader: Two. A Brief History of San Francisco Explore California. Three. A Brief History of San Francisco, The San Francisco Peninsula) To pause the audio, I hit Command+Shift+ C on the Mac or Ctrl+Shift+C on the PC. Now when we were listening to this, it really didn't make much sense. I'm going to grab my Hand tool down here to pan down and it started with Two: A Brief History of San Francisco, Explore California: 3.
Then went through A Brief History of San Francisco and started to go into The San Francisco Peninsula sidebar. This doesn't make any sense. I don't want the screen reader to be reading me the footer on the page, I want it to start at the top of the screen and read the main article. That makes sense to me. Inside CS5, I didn't create any articles or relationships among the page items. So the tags had no idea what was going inside the layout. Let's go back inside CS5.5 and take a look at what's going on. Back inside InDesign CS5.5 let's open up the Article panel. Inside the Articles panel menu, I have an option called Use for Reading Order inside Tagged PDF, which is what we were just doing.
I want this to be turned on so the screen reader knows exactly the correct order to read everything for us. Now let's go and export this to a PDF. I'm going to export this to my Desktop as a PDF (Interactive) and we'll call this cs5-5. We'll be sure to View PDF after Exporting and Create a Tagged PDF and we'll click OK. Now looking at this PDF, let's try the screen reader again, View > Read Out Loud > Read This Page. (Screen Reader: A Brief History of San Francisco.
Located at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay.) This time it made perfect sense. It started with A Brief History of San Francisco and went right into the main article. It ignored the footer at the bottom and didn't bother with the sidebar because we made the Article panel be the reading order for this particular PDF. Looking at the Tags, it has all of the articles that we made and they're named exactly what we wanted them to be. So I can open it up and find everything that I want. It's a nice organized way to find everything, and because it's organized, the screen reader has no problem reading back to us the correct order of the layout.
In addition to reading order, CS5.5 has enhanced the tag support for footnotes, lists and nested styles, tables and nested tables, and hyperlinks. Let's take a look at this. Inside the PDF I have a footnote over by 3000 BC. Let's zoom in so we can see this. Right here I've got a tiny little footnote. If I go into this story and I go into this next paragraph, I can find a reference specifically to that one. It's a lot easier to find your footnote support now. On the second page, I have lists and nested lists.
I'm going to close this article and open the Neighborhoods panel. And as I open up the Story I can see all of my lists and my nested list support, in a nice orderly fashion. If you ever want to open or close these tags you can Option or Alt+ click them and it'll open or close each time you Option or Alt+click. On the right-hand page is my table. If I open up the Climate article, we'll find our Table and it has Table Header and Footer support.
If I go inside the Footer table, I'll see there's a hyperlink for NOAA which is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If you work frequently with Accessible PDFs, these enhancements to the tags will make your life a lot easier. But even if you don't work with Accessible PDFs, tags do have a very useful function. Let me show you an example. I'm going to do a File > Open and on my Desktop inside the Exercise Files > Chapter 1 > 01-02, we're going to open up no-tags.pdf. Now this is a PDF that was generated from any version of InDesign.
It doesn't matter if it was CS5, CS4, even InDesign CS, or even a document that wasn't from InDesign. If I open inside Tags panel, you'll see there are no tags that were made. If I select all of this text and copy it to the Clipboard and go back to InDesign, I'm going to make a New Document, paste in this text. Now if I look at all of this text you can see there're hard returns everywhere. An easier way to see that is if I just come over here and turn on Hidden Characters. Now when I zoom in these hard returns make it impossible to reflow this text.
If you've ever had a PDF from a client, or you've downloaded off the Internet and you're trying to get text out of it, you might have had all these returns and you might have spent your time coming in deleting and then putting in spaces and, it really wasn't a lot of fun. Well, a quick way to fix this is to use a Tagged PDF. Now let's go back to this PDF. Now even though there are no tags inside it, we can add these ourselves. So I'm going to go to the Tools panel and inside the menu I want to make sure to choose Accessibility. I'm going to hit the little button that says Add Tags to Document. Now if you're not inside Acrobat 10, you can go to the Advanced menu and choose Accessibility and choose Add Tags to Document.
That'll work in 9, 8, 7, and so on. When I hit this button it's going to quickly add tags to the document. I can close this little warning here. I'm going to select all of my text, copy it to the Clipboard. We'll go back to InDesign. I'm going to zoom back out here. We'll get rid of that text and I'm going to paste it in here. Now with all of this text pasted in, if we would look at this, hey, it's all falling exactly the way that we like. So as you can see it's a good idea to add tags to a PDF if you ever want to get the content out of it and you're getting those extra returns.
Even if you have no intentions of creating Accessible PDFs for the government, it's a good idea to get in the habit of creating a Tagged PDF whenever you export. It adds a negligible amount of file size; just a few K. But if anyone ever needs to access the content, it'll be much more accessible. To find out more information on accessibility in InDesign, visit adobe.com/accessibility/ products/indesign/overview.html.
- Adding alternate text for screen readers
- Mapping styles to export tags for HTML exports
- Adding multimedia for iBook output
- Dragging and dropping anchored objects
- Working with linked stories
- Using the Overlay Creator
- Creating a panorama for an iPad publication