Accessible PDFs – Tags and Reading Order (3/5)

This is the third post of Accessible PDFs series of blogs. You can view the other posts from

My posts were inspired by these three very useful articles:

In this post I am looking at document tags and reading order which you can examine using the Accessibility pane.  According to Adobe Acrobat feature comparison, accessibility features are available in Acrobat XI Pro, Acrobat Pro 2017 and Acrobat Pro DC.


To open Tags pane use View > Show/Hide > Navigation panes > Tags.

Tags pane
Figure 1: Tags pane

These tags are used by screen-reader software. There is also something called content order, which is used by Adobe to rearrange content when a user selects Reflow (or to fit content into mobile screen).

Because of this complexity, to get a document accessible, we need to make the content and tag order  match the visual order.

To do this open the Reading Order tool and select the Page content order radio button. You will see content order shown by a number on the left hand corner of each encompassing box. If this order is not correct open select the Show Order Panel button.

Order panel
Figure 2: Order panel

You can click and drag items to correct the content order or use cut and paste shortcut keys to correct the order. However, using this page can be confusing. This content order changes made will be reflected on both tags and content order. But WebAIM tutorial Page 3: Acrobat and Accessibility says that this can be unpredictable. So they recommend correcting the Order pane and then verifying in the Tags pane.

Now that we have done all what is required for accessibility enhancing in the next post I will discuss accessibility checking.