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Creating Accessible Footnotes

New Here ,
Nov 29, 2018 Nov 29, 2018

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Hi all! My team is looking to make a PDF (originally created in Publisher) accessible by (WCAG) 2.0 standards. We are a research center and our reports have many footnotes. Ideally, I'd like to create a hyperlink that links from the superscripted number to the footnote text at the bottom of the same page, so someone using a screenreader can decide whether or not they want to follow the link and read the text in the footnote (rather than having all the footnote text read at once at the end of each page). When I do this and try to read it using my screen reader, it doesn't seem to work to be accessible -- doesn't give the option of following the link and finding the footnote text. Any insight from someone who has succeeded at this? Thank you!

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Standards and accessibility

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Community Expert , Nov 29, 2018 Nov 29, 2018

Yes, I do have some insight.

Don't use MS Publisher for that type of project.

I'd use MS Word or Adobe InDesign for documents with footnotes.

Both programs tag and hyperlink footnotes correctly as long as you insert the footnotes into the document correctly by using their built-in footnote utilities. MS Publisher can't do that.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 29, 2018 Nov 29, 2018

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Yes, I do have some insight.

Don't use MS Publisher for that type of project.

I'd use MS Word or Adobe InDesign for documents with footnotes.

Both programs tag and hyperlink footnotes correctly as long as you insert the footnotes into the document correctly by using their built-in footnote utilities. MS Publisher can't do that.

Bevi Chagnon | PubCom | Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
| Books & Classes | Accessible InDesign | Accessible PDFs | Accessible MS Office |

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New Here ,
Dec 04, 2018 Dec 04, 2018

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Thank you for your reply, @Bevi Chagnon! We'll keep that in mind for future projects, as our team moves to make all content accessible.

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Engaged ,
Dec 02, 2018 Dec 02, 2018

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I would put the superscripted number in a <Reference> tag and the footnote in a <Note> tag. The <Note> should be placed as close as practical to the <Reference> without disrupting the reading flow, not left at the end of the page. The end result would look something like ...

<P>

__ Now is the time for all good men

__ <Reference>

____ 1

__ to come to the aid of their country.

__ <Note>

____ 1 Most scholars believe the word 'men' was intended to be inclusive of all genders.

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New Here ,
Dec 04, 2018 Dec 04, 2018

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Thank you so much for your reply, a_C_student​! Once I've tagged the superscripted number and the footnote appropriately, will the screenreader automatically know to go from the superscripted number to the footnote?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 04, 2018 Dec 04, 2018

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No. Not unless the Reference tag has a combo of nested sub-tags called Link and Link-OBJR. This combo gives the link the accessibility required by PDF/UA accessibility standards.

But the hyperlink isn't needed because the <Note> tag just follows the <Reference> tag (after the end of the sentence, that is).

And to clarify the info above, you won't see the <Note> and <Reference> tags until the PDF is made. Publisher doesn't create the tags: it's the PDF conversion utility that creates the tags as it exports the PDF file itself.

Here's a screen capture of an actual file. You can see how <Reference> and <Note> are nested inside the <P> paragraph:

Footnotes in PDFs.png

I haven't tested Publisher's accessibility within the past year, so I don't know where if it does this correctly or not. But the PDF shown in the above PDF was exported from Adobe InDesign CC:2019 which greatly improved the tagging of footnotes, endnotes, and table notes.

Hope this helps,
—Bevi Chagnon | PubCom

Bevi Chagnon | PubCom | Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
| Books & Classes | Accessible InDesign | Accessible PDFs | Accessible MS Office |

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Explorer ,
Mar 30, 2022 Mar 30, 2022

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Hi all,

 

Since we're talking about references....how should the "note" be tagged in Indesign. Do you leave it as "Automatic" or does that have to be tagged a specific way? I've tried to leave it as Automatic, I tried adding a p tag, but I always seem to get error messages and I can't figure out why. I'm assuming there's something I should be doing in Indesign that I'm not doing. The error message I'm getting now is "Possibly inappropriate use of a "p" structure element. Would love to hear your thoughts!

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