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Home > External Apps > Ally > Easy Fix #5: Converting Microsoft Word Files to PDF | 2024
Easy Fix #5: Converting Microsoft Word Files to PDF | 2024
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Need some simple fixes to improve accessibility? The Office of Digital Learning has a series of tips for making course content more accessible. See the full series:

Easy Fix #1 - Image descriptions

Easy Fix #2 - Optimum color contrast

Easy Fix #3 - Descriptive document titles

Easy Fix #4 - Document headings

Easy Fix #5 - Converting Microsoft Word files to PDF

We hope you are beginning to see tangible improvements in your course’s accessibility meters and are enjoying the satisfaction of knowing your students are benefiting. In our fifth and final message of the series, we show you how you can avoid some common accessibility issues when converting Microsoft Word files to PDF.

Tips for Converting a Microsoft Word File to PDF

Many instructors create PDFs from Microsoft Word documents. Depending on how you convert a Word document to PDF, your Ally Course Report may indicate the following flags:

  • The document is untagged.
  • The document does not have a language set.

Document tags are an important component of accessibility, enabling students to easily navigate content. Language settings help screen readers render more accurate pronunciations. PDFs flagged for these issues are typically a result of printing a Word document as a PDF. In other words, when creating a PDF from Microsoft Word, you select the File tab, then Print, then Adobe PDF as the printer.

You can avoid this issue by uploading the original Word document in place of the PDF, or you can click on the file’s accessibility dial in Canvas and follow Ally’s instructions for making sure your PDF has tags:

  1. Open the Microsoft Word source file, select File and then Save As. In the dropdown labeled “Save as type,” select PDF and then the Options button.
  2. In the Options dialog, check the box next to “Document structure tags for accessibility,” and then OK.

Once you’ve saved the new PDF, you can return to Ally’s instructions in Canvas to upload the replacement file to your course site. 

New to Ally?

The Office of Digital Learning enabled the course accessibility tool Ally in all Canvas courses and organizational sites in December 2020. Ally simplifies the process of converting course materials into formats all students can access. Visit the Ally Resource Guide for access to Ally support resources, including webinars and one-on-one consultations. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions. Thank you for all you do to foster inclusive learning at FSU.


Questions? Visit us on the web at, sign up for our newsletter, call 850-644-8004 Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, or submit a ticket to ODL Technical Support.

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