Video demos of the top 5 ways to fix accessibility issues in existing PDF documents

Adobe Acrobat Professional comes in handy if you want to modify/update your existing PDF documents without re-generating it from the source files. While PDF documents are for consumption and are a final output without much scope for large-scale editing, Adobe Acrobat does allow you to do different types of edits, including but not limited to, editing text, editing images, manipulating backgrounds, manipulating watermarks, adding or modifying numbering, and so on. Another set of under-the-hood manipulations allow you to make your PDF documents accessible and help differently abled people consume the content. This also makes your PDF files more search engine friendly.

In the blog post on my team’s blog, I posted my favorite top 5 fixes for PDF documents to boost their accessibility. Click on the image below to access the blog post.

Top 5 accessibility fixes for PDFsIn this blog post I am compiling a few handpicked videos, shared by the fantastic Adobe Acrobat community, to showcase these top 5 enhancements.

Run OCR on a scanned document

The following video is a very quick but silent one. Watch it if you only need to quickly find how to do OCR in Acrobat.

The following video is one of the more detailed one out there, with a nice voice over.

The below video, recorded a few years ago by Tim Plumer Jr., has fantastic lucid narration (hence slightly longer) that showcases OCR using an older version of Acrobat. Watch this video if you are new to the OCR concept. While the UI has changed, the concepts remain exactly the same.

Add Document Properties and metadata

The following videos by Sally Cox, is a hidden gem. It describes in great detail where to find which properties and how to update open settings, metadata, and other Initial View. She also illustrates the change by showing before-after scenario. The 10 minutes are well spent, but view it with a mental state to learn.

For a very quick look at how to update just the metadata of a PDF document, watch the following video.

Set alternative text

Watch the following video to get a very quick look at just how to add alt text to an image.

Tag a PDF document or define flow

The following video talks about enhancing the flow of content in a PDF file. The video describes the issue of lack of flow in detail–very lucid.

The following videos shows tags in a PDF file and how to work with them.

Act on the detailed accessibility report

You can check the accessibility by running a full blown accessibility check on a PDF document. Two videos I think are useful to know how to run the report and act on it are below:

 

Image source is Wikimedia Commons public domain image.

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Top 5 tweaks you must do to your PDF documents before publishing them

Between the time it takes to create a PDF file and publish it, you may end up earning yourself a bad name. One that lives on forever—in the form of a lame PDF document! While a bit more goes into creating a lean and mean PDF files, by following this blog post you can save yourselves some embarrassing content authoring, document production, and SEO mistakes.

Create a PDF document using PDFMaker

Many applications are supported by PDFMaker. Use the plugin to create a PDF document from a source file. As opposed to say, printing the source document to the PDF print driver or taking a screenshot and creating a PDF from clipboard.

Using PDFMaker ensures that the metadata, the quality settings, and the privacy settings, as set by the document author, are respected and incorporated into the output. Some functionality is only available via this route, like creation of PDF bookmarks.

Acrobat ribbon in MS Word

Acrobat ribbon in MS Word

Set the various options in document properties dialog

Once you PDF document is created, press Ctrl+D (alternatively, click File > Properties) to access the Document Properties dialog.

In the Description tab, mention the Title, Author, Subject, and Keywords. Many of these values are best set as the metadata in the source file. This helps ensure the PDF document contains these options every time a new PDF is generated.

Using the settings in the Initial View tab, you may want to display the document title, instead of the PDF file name, in the title bar of the PDF. You may want to also display the bookmarks or other available options when the PDF opens. From the Initial View tab, you can control the magnification, first page to open, placement on the screen, etc. when the PDF is opened. You can also hide one or more of the menu bar, the tool bar, and the windows controls.

Initial view in Acrobat Document Properties

Initial view in Acrobat Document Properties

Less common options you can set are add more meta information in the Custom tab and set printing mode (DuplexMode field) to ‘Duplex Flip Long Edge’ to save paper when your document is printed.

In the Fonts tab, ensure the uncommon fonts used in the document are embedded. Avoid print and display errors during PDF consumption in different environments. than the one it was created in. Do check the end user license agreement of the font for any possible restrictions on embedding them in a PDF.

Detailed official help is here.

Get your bookmarks in order

First, get bookmarks. Use the optimum styles in your source document and use the settings in the Acrobat plugin to generate PDF bookmarks.

Do not stop at this, else you may end up shipping a PDF document with bookmarks out of order. Decide whether you want only the Level 1 bookmarks to be expanded or even Level 2 (or Level 3) bookmarks expanded. The software supported by PDFMaker, contain some settings to create bookmarks.

Create PDF bookmarks in Adobe FrameMaker

Create PDF bookmarks in Adobe FrameMaker

Create PDF bookmarks in MS Word

Create PDF bookmarks in MS Word

Check my previous blog post, to collapse the PDF bookmarks and retain that state in the PDF.

Accessibility

Accessibility options in Acrobat

Accessibility options in Acrobat tools pane

Accessibility Checker in Acrobat

Accessibility Checker report in Acrobat

Run the accessibility check on your PDF and check for, at least, the obvious things that you can fix. For example, mention the alt text of the images, create a tagged PDF, OCR the scanned content, and so on.
You can quickly do an accessibility audit of your PDF document using the Full Check option from the above screenshot. Accessibility Checker runs a customizable check for up to 32 parameters.

Optimize the PDF for the required use case

You may want to optimize your PDF depending on the use case and target audience. Some common optimizations are to reduce the file size to conserve bandwidth, to flatten the form fields, to remove common fonts to reduce file size, to add uncommon fonts for a smooth experience, enable Fast Web View for byte-serving of large documents, and so on.

Acrobat option to save as an Optimized PDF

Acrobat option to save as an Optimized PDF

Learn all about optimizing PDF files here and in the video below.