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Publishing Electronic Documents

Since documents present several challenges for users, the decision to publish them on the web should be considered carefully. For example, the PDF user experience is usually terrible on smartphones where screen size averages just five inches. Since PDFs are often used to replace regular web content, information shared in these documents is often completely inaccessible by some users, particularly those who are blind or low vision.

Instead of sharing content in a PDF, consider how you can create accessible web content for your users. This page provides resources for reviewing and evaluating the documents currently published on your website and also presents questions to consider for future documents. You’ll also find tools and resources for making documents more accessible.

If you currently have documents published on your site that are flagged as inaccessible in Monsido, visit Review Published PDFs in Monsido for additional guidance and details.

On this page

Find tips, resources, and support for making your documents accessible including:

  • Questions to Consider
  • Reviewing documents for your site
  • Resources for creating accessible documents
  • Converting PDFs to web content
  • Taking your documents to the next level with the Micro-Certification Badge!

Questions to consider…

Why am I sharing this information?

All web content is created for a specific purpose. Understanding why you are sharing the information will help you decide the best way to add the content to the website. If you are sharing the information as a printable resource for faculty or students, a PDF document may be appropriate. If you are adding a document to share information about an upcoming event, a PDF document may not be appropriate.

Is the information current?

If the information shared in the document is old, outdated, or not correct, we recommend removing the document from the website entirely.

If the document is being shared for archival purposes, it still must meet accessibility requirements. For questions on how to best share this information contact the OIT Web Accessibility Team at

Is the information shared in a webpage format?

As a general rule, you should provide content in a web format instead of in a document. Documents can be difficult for users to interact with and read while web content is more consistent and predictable for users no matter what tool they are using to access the content.

If the content is not currently provided in a webpage format

We recommend one of the two actions:

  1. Add content to an existing webpage or webpages
  2. Create a new webpage or webpages and add the content from the document

For questions or assistance converting content to from a document to a webpage, contact the OIT Web Accessibility Team at

If the content provided in the document is also provided in a webpage format

You can either remove the PDF from the site altogether or you can link to an accessible PDF to give users the option to download the file. If you choose this option, ensure the hyperlink text clearly identifies the document is a PDF.

Who created the document?

If you or someone at Boise State created the document, then you should have access to update the document’s accessibility. If the document came from an organization outside Boise State, you may or may not be able to make changes to the documents accessibility.

If you can locate the documents original author, you should request an accessible version or permission to make the document accessible.

Review Documents on Your Site

The first step to ensuring your site does not contain outdated or inaccessible documents is to review all documents referenced on your site.
Learn more about how to find and remediate documents on your site.

Draft, Edit, and Publish with Accessibility in Mind

Resources for Creating Accessible Documents

Accessible documents are scannable, searchable, legible, readable, and tagged correctly. You can improve the accessibility of your documents with these tools and resources.

Purchasing Adobe Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro is required to remediate PDF documents. Contact your department or college administrator to request an Acrobat Pro license, or send a request to the Help Desk at

CommonLook PDF and Remediation Services

If you are responsible for remediating a large volume of PDFs for your department, we recommend purchasing a license for CommonLook PDF. You can also send documents to CommonLook for remediation. Costs vary depending on the document. For more information on costs or to purchase a license, contact Andrea Combs at

Adobe Acrobat

Create and verify PDF Accessibility with Adobe Acrobat Pro

Adobe InDesign

Map styles to tags for improved accessibility in InDesign

Google Docs and Slides

Make Google Docs and Slides more accessible with these tips

Grackle Docs

Verify accessibility of Google Docs with this add-on

Grackle Slides

Verify accessibility of Google Slides with this add-on

Grackle Sheets

Verify accessibility of Google Sheets with this add-on

Microsoft PowerPoint

Make your presentations more accessible with Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft Word

Make your documents more accessible with Microsoft Word

Converting PDF Content to Web Content

Convert to Plain Text

One of the best ways to remove inaccessible documents from your website is to convert them to web content. However, this can be daunting if you have a lot of content or lengthy documents. Simply coping and pasting the content can also cause accessibility errors as the styling in the document can come over with the text.

To avoid this you can generate a plain text version of your document to allow for easier copying and pasting into WordPress. Once your text is in WordPress, then you can use the web theme to style your content in an accessible way.

What types of documents work best for this process?

Since you are converting documents to plain text, documents that are more text based will work better for this process. However, if you do have documents with lots of graphics and images, you may need to add those media files to the web page after the text is added. Simply upload your images to the media library and add to the web page as you normally would.

What will you need to get started?

  1. Google Drive, Adobe Acrobat Reader, or Adobe Acrobat Pro
  2. A document, or documents that you want to convert to web content
  3. Your WordPress website

Converting PDF Documents with Google Drive

  1. Review Google’s recommendations for what file work best for conversion
  2. Upload your PDF document to Google Drive and make note of the location. You may want to create a specific folder to help keep track of your documents.
  3. Locate the document in Google Drive and right-click to select Open with > Google Docs. Keep in mind the style of your document will likely appear very different at this point. If needed touch up any text or formatting at this point in time. For example, removing bullet points or other style.
  4. Next, select File > Download as > Plain Text (.txt) to generate a plain text file. This file will download to your computer and will further remove additional styling from your document.
  5. Open the text file and copy the text. Now you can paste this content into a new web page on your WordPress site and style as needed using the university web theme.

Converting PDF Documents with Adobe Acrobat Reader

  1. Open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Reader
  2. Select File > Save as Other > Text
  3. Select a location to save your text file then select Save
  4. Locate and open your text file from the saved location and copy the text. Now you can paste this content into a new web page on your WordPress site and style as needed using the university web theme.

Converting PDF Documents with Adobe Acrobat Pro

  1. Open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro
  2. Select File > Export To > Text (Accessible)
  3. Select a location to save your text file then select Save
  4. Locate and open your text file from the saved location and copy the text. Now you can paste this content into a new web page on your WordPress site and style as needed using the university web theme.

Need help converting your PDFs to web content?

The process of repairing existing PDF documents is time-consuming, confusing, and sometimes very difficult. Instead, consider alternative, better options to present your content on the web, especially in consideration of the mobile device-centric world we now live in.

Review the video Shifting from Print to Digital: Brochures, Flyers, and Newsletters for some ideas to get started today!

If you need assistance or recommendations on how best to convert your PDF content to web content, contact the OIT Web Accessibility team. Together, we will find a solution that works for you and your web users!

Contact Web Accessibility Team

Take your documents to the next level with the Micro-Certification Badge!

Want to learn even more about creating and publishing accessible documents? Find details about and register for the Web Content Accessibility Micro-Certification Badge Course at Training and Support. In this course you’ll learn, practice, and demonstrate your skills in creating accessible web content, documents, images, and media. Currently, two of the four scheduled levels are available.

Level 1: Web Tools and Remediation

In this level you will:

  1. Identify web accessibility requirements
  2. Write alternative text descriptions
  3. Publish accessible web content in WordPress
  4. Troubleshoot and remediate accessibility errors
  5. Articulate the needs for accessible web content at Boise State University

Level 2: Document and Media Accessibility

In this level you will:

  1. Identify and evaluate accessibility of documents (MicroSoft Office, Google Docs, and PDFs), images (static and animated), and time-based media using Monsido
  2. Create and publish accessible documents and forms
  3. Create and publish accessible images
  4. Evaluate, remediate, and publish time-based media including captions, audio description, and transcript using Camtasia Studio
  5. Publish accessible documents, images, and time-based media on a webpage using WordPress
  6. Articulate needs for accessible documents, images, and time-based media at Boise State University
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