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Digital Accessibility

Reading Order in PowerPoint

Setting a logical reading order for your slides makes it much easier for screen reader users to understand your slide content.

Establishing a Logical Reading Order

When you add content to your PowerPoint slide, it is automatically assigned a position in the reading order that screen reader users will hear. Whichever content you add first becomes the first item in the reading order, the second content you add becomes the second item in the reading order, and so on.

However, you are not stuck with this reading order. You can use the Reading Order or Selection pane to establish a more logical reading order. The Reading Order pane displays slide objects from top-down.  The Selection pane displays slide objects in reverse order (from bottom-up).

Reading Order Pane (only available in Windows):

  1. Select Review tab.
  2. Select Check Accessibility dropdown menu.
  3. Select Reading Order Pane.
  4. Reorder your slide content as needed.
    Screenshot of reading order pane listing multiple placeholders in this order: title 1, content placeholder 2, picture 6, content placeholder 2, picture 4, slide number placeholder.

Selection Pane (available in Windows and Mac):  

  1. On the Home tab, select Arrange button.
  2. Select Selection Pane.
  3. Note: This Selection Pane contains the same objects listed in the Reading Order Pane above, but in the reverse order.
    Screenshot of selection pane listing multiple objects in this order: slide number placeholder 3, picture 4, content placeholder 2, picture 6, content placeholder 2, title 1. Title 1 is at the bottom of the list.


Accessibility Checker for Reading Order

Microsoft Accessibility Checker will identify Warnings for your Reading Order if it seems to be illogical.

However, it's ultimately up to you as a content creator to determine if your reading order makes sense or not.


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