Data Visualization Toolkit: Data Tables Accessibility Tips

Data Tables icon

A visual display can be helpful for generally comparing magnitudes or looking at trends, but sometimes providing specific data points is necessary. Data tables are useful for presenting data where specific data points, not just summary statistics or general takeaways, are important to the audience. Tables are also a good way to present both qualitative and quantitative data together.

Data Tables Accessibility Tips

  • Tables must be used to create a tabular structure for inserting and displaying data (for example, in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint). Do not use tabs or spaces to separate and display columns of information.
  • All tables must read from left to right, top to bottom (for proper reading order by a screen reader). To be accessible, tables must contain the same number of columns in each row and rows in each column—that is, do not merge cells in the tables, especially in headers. A screen reader will not identify the merged cells as a header cell.
  • Tables containing data must have the first row designated as a Header Row in Table Properties.
  • Table headers should never be empty, especially the top left cell.
  • Provide alt text (alternative text) that describes the nature and content of the table.
  • Rows should not break across pages. In Word, Table Properties, uncheck the Allow to break across pages checkbox.

For more information on making data tables accessible, see the Web Accessibility in Mind site and the Web Accessibility Standards webpage.