As a good starting point for assessing the accessibility of your dataset, use the built-in accessibility checker in Excel to identify and fix any issues. However, do not rely on this check alone to make sure that your file can be used by everyone.

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Datasets should not include images, graphics, charts or embedded objects. Where this cannot be avoided, include alt text with all visuals to help users navigating the file with accessibility software understand the importance.


Users accessing your data with a screen reader are able to scan a list of hyperlinks in order to find what they are looking for. To make this as easy and useful as possible, make sure to use meaningful hyperlink text that provides accurate information about the link destination.


Do not use colour to convey meaning that is not shown another way, such as with a symbol. If there is a situation where you cannot avoid using colour, make sure the contrast meets WCAG AA standard and that the information is explained clearly elsewhere in the dataset.

Use black or dark grey for all text as the higher the level of contrast between the text and background, the more people can see and use the content. This is especially helpful for users with low vision.


Give each tab a unique name that clearly describes the information found in the worksheet and avoid using non-descript titles like “Sheet 1” as screen readers will read out tab names. 

Remove any blank tabs for easier navigation. 


Use clear column headings to provide context to the data and help users to navigate and understand the contents.

Users with dyslexia can find it difficult to read a lot of crowded text. It can be helpful to make the most of white space and extend the height or width of columns so that text sits comfortably and clearly within the cells. 


Most accessibility software will navigate an Excel file by reading the table header rows, so use a simple table structure with clear headings and subheadings. 

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. Try not to: 

  • include blank cells, columns or rows 
  • nest tables within other tables
  • merge or split cells 

These things can be misleading to a screen reader. This type of formatting can cause it to lose count and cannot provide helpful information to the user.

Further guidance on how to format your datasets is available on the datasets page.

We are constantly improving based on research and best practice. Any significant changes to our guidance are available on the Updates page.