How to Compress a PDF: A Simple Guide to Smaller File Sizes

Hi! I’m Shawn Jordison and welcome to The Accessibility Guy blog. In today’s post, we’re learning how to compress a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Compressing PDFs makes large files quick and easy to share. You can reduce a PDF size by 20% to 30% without compromising quality or readability.

Video Guide

Following this guide will teach you how to customize Adobe’s compression settings so you always satisfy upload file size limits.

Check the current PDF file size

  1. Open your PDF and click the Menu Button.
  2. Choose “Document Properties.”
  3. Note your file size.
Checking the file size of a PDF

Open the compression tool

  1. Go to the Tools Panel and choose “Compress a PDF.”
  2. Select “Advanced Optimization.”

Customize the compression tool settings

  1. Choose “Retaining Existing” for compatibility.
  2. Set “Downsampling” to Off.
  3. Set “Compression” to Retain Existing for color, grayscale, and monochrome images.
  4. Click “OK” and save your PDF.
Customizing compression settings in a PDF

Final thoughts

Try testing different settings for different file sizes. The greater the compression, the greater the impact will be on the quality and readability of your finished product. For example, change “Downsampling” or “Compression” settings on smaller and larger PDFs to gauge your results.

There you have it – you’ve learned how to compress a PDF by customizing the compression settings in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates.

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How to make PDFs Accessible | Episode 5: Irvine Valley College

Welcome to episode five on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Irvine Valley College’s DSPS Student Parent Night 2023 document.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3 and Episode 4 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Key Issues from this Episode

The document originated from PowerPoint. We knew to expect multiple issues on our road toward PDF accessibility.

Here’s a run-down of issues after running the auto-tagger:
  • Header Issues: The document incorrectly uses ‘p’ tags for headers. These should be formatted as ‘h1’ or other appropriate header tags. Inconsistent tagging leads to a confusing heading hierarchy.
  • Acronym Clarity: The text “HS Student Parent Night” uses unclear acronyms. Expand acronyms for clarity. Change the text in the document properties.
  • Figure Tags: Adding alternative text to figure tags is crucial for visually impaired users to understand image content. Figures with text should be transcribed in the alt text area. Artifact any figures that don’t add value.
Adding alternative text to Figure tags is essential for accessibility
  • List Continuity: A disjointed list that spans multiple pages should be streamlined into a single list tag so as not to confuse screen readers.
  • Link Management: Multiple hyperlinks to the same source on the same page is excessive and non-informative.
  • Color Contrast Issues: Poor color contrast requires changes for legibility. Change font color in the editor. Use black and other dark colors to enhance accessibility.
Example of terrible colour contrast in a PDF making the page unreadable
  • Reading Order Complications: Use the reading order tool to select content and mark it as a text paragraph for proper flow.
  • Misplaced Content: Some content did not highlight when selected due to possible OCR errors. Artifact the content as a temporary fix.
Here’s a run-down of issues after running the PAC tool:
  • Embed Missing Fonts: This can cause issues with text display. Embed the missing fonts using the preflight tool.
  • Missing Link Annotations: Create content entries for link annotations to make links accessible.
  • Metadata and Structure Tree Issues: There were problems with the structure tree and metadata, which required fixes to comply with PDF/UA standards.
  • Non-Tagged Path Objects: This can lead to accessibility issues. Head to the Content panel and artifact these objects.
Artifact path objects in content panel of Adobe Acrobat

PRO-TIP: Save your document before entering the Content panel as it’s very easy to mess up your PDF in there!

  • Multiple span tags: These came through due to the initial PowerPoint formatting and led to errors showing in the PAC tool. Carefully inspect and manually correct.

Conclusion

PDFs converted from PowerPoint are not accessible. On our journey to PDF accessibility, Adobe Acrobat didn’t always function as expected, leading to additional complications in the remediation process. For example, despite corrections, errors persisted, necessitating a page extraction, which led to further issues. We had to adjust the structure, manually make tagging corrections, re-embed fonts, re-add the the PDF/UA identifier. Whew!

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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How to Insert a Digital Signature into a PDF Document

This guide explains how to add a blank signature field to a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat Pro. A digital signature is more secure that an ink signature. PDF readers can check that the document was written and signed by the same person and has not been modified by an unknown person.

Video Guide

Follow these steps for a more accessible, secure, digitally signed PDF.

Add a digital signature field

  1. Open your PDF document and head to the Tools Menu.
  2. Select “Prepare a Form.”
  3. From the left sidebar, choose “Add Form Components.”
  4. Click “E-signature Fields.”
  5. A box will appear. Place it where you want the signature.

Set document properties

  1. Right-click on the signature box and choose “Properties.”
  2. Add a tooltip for Assistive Technology. For example, “Signature for Shawn Jordison.”
  3. There are options to mark the document as “Read Only” and have the signature required.
  4. Close the Properties box.
Adding a tooltip to digital signature properties in a PDF

Sign the Document

  1. Complete the document fields and then click on the signature field.
  2. A prompt will ask for a “Digital ID”. You can choose to “Create a New Digital ID.”
  3. Save it to the “Windows Certificate Store.”
  4. Fill in your name and email details as specified on the form.
Creating a new digital ID in a PDF

Save and Lock your PDF

  1. You have an option to lock the document after signing.
  2. Finally, choose “Sign” and save the document.

Your PDF is now digitally signed and locked.

A digital signature in a PDF document

Bookmark this easy guide so you never forget how to add a digital signature field and set up a digital ID in a PDF. Your documents will be secure and accessible.

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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Accessible Fonts for Section 508 Compliance

Today’s topic is how to set accessible fonts in Microsoft Word documents, to ensure section 508 compliance. Using the right font is a big step in making your Word documents accessible to all.

Video Guide

What Are Accessible Fonts?

Accessible fonts don’t slow user reading speed. This is especially important for those with low vision or reading disability, or people who are blind. The right font improves the legibility and readability of the document.

The sans-serif font family is fully accessible. Examples include Arial, Calibri, Century Gothic, Helvetica, Tahoma, and Verdana. Using one of these fonts helps your documents meet section 508 standards.

How to Change Fonts for Accessibility in Word

To change fonts, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Word document.
  2. Press Ctrl + A. This selects all text.
  3. Go to the Home ribbon.
  4. Look for the Fonts area.
  5. Choose an accessible font, like Calibri.
  6. Now your document has accessible fonts.
How to set an accessible font in a Word document

PRO-TIP: The Ctrl + A feature is powerful. It lets you change fonts for the whole document quickly.

Checklist and Further Resources

Enter your email below to receive our free comprehensive MS Word checklist. It will be your guide to ensure all your Word documents meet section 508 standards.

Download MS Word 508 Checklist:

* indicates required

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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Making a PDF Accessible: Episode 4 |Glendale College


Welcome to episode four on making college PDFs accessible. Today, we focus on Glendale Community College’s Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) newsletter for summer 2023.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2 and Episode 3 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Key Takeaways From This Episode

This document was originally made in Canva. Canva forms are just not accessible. Multiple rounds of testing were required. The combination of issues made for a time-consuming and laborious process with no quick solutions.

Initial Run of the Accessibility Checker

From the start we uncovered a number of basic issues needing correction:

  • Reading Order. ‘Figure’, ‘H1’, ‘LI’ tags were not in the right order, making the document hard to read. Organizing these creates a nice flow.
  • Unnecessary Tags. There were extra ‘div’ tags that didn’t serve a purpose. Cleaning these is essential in making accessible PDFs. Less is more!
  • Tagging Tips: Change ‘figure’ tags to ‘p’ tags when they hold text, and condense ‘p’ tags that separate text unnecessarily. Artifact unused ‘p’ tags to clean things up.
  • Table of Contents. The existing table was not serving as a functional Table of Contents. Manually adjust tags to link to the correct pages for better navigation.
Creating tags for a table of contents in a PDF
  • Images Without Alt Text. Adding alt text to photos is crucial for PDF accessibility for users with visual impairments.
  • List Items Misbehaving: When text meant for paragraphs gets included as list items, manually separate each of them.

Check the Metadata

From the main Menu, select Document Properties. From here we can review and edit the PDF properties.

Editing document properties in a PDF

Through this, we found out the PDF was made in Canva. Canva is famous for poorly tagging. Check out our blog post on how to make a Canva document accessible.

Canva Issues

There were a number of inconsistent error messages. We fixed some, they kept appearing, we fixed more, and received more error messages. Major confusion!

  • Link and Notation Nesting: We found incorrect nesting of structure elements, specifically between links and notations.
  • Inappropriate Use of Span Tags: Multiple errors indicated the inappropriate use of span tags. The span tags were not mapped properly, causing role mapping issues. We had to manually go through the link tree and delete them.
  • Keyboard Navigation: We experienced bugs in the keyboard navigation while editing so many ‘span’ tags. This made it frustrating to move quickly through the structure tree.
  • Element Placement: We changed the block element to inline for images that also serve as links, further cleaning up errors.
Changing a block element to inline element in a PDF

Concluding Advice for Creators of Accessible PDFs

Please avoid creating PDF documents in Canva. Canva documents are not accessible. Also, limit the complexity and size of your PDF. This was an 8 page PDF. The heavy visual load made it hard to find and correct errors efficiently.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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How to Resize a PDF

Welcome to today’s blog post, where we’re learning how to resize a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Downsizing large PDFs saves disk space, bandwidth, and computer memory. It also allows for paper size adjustment when printing.

Video Guide

Follow these steps to resize a PDF in just a few short minutes.

Check Your Current PDF Page Size

  1. Open PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  2. Select Menu Button.
  3. Choose Document Properties.
  4. Note the current page size. (e.g., 11×17 inches)

Open Print Command

  1. Press Ctrl + P on keyboard.
  2. Change printer to Adobe PDF.
  3. Click Properties button.

Adjust Paper Quality

  1. Select Paper Quality tab.
  2. Under Paper Source, keep as Automatically Select.
  3. Click Advanced.
Advanced paper quality options in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Edit PDF Page Size

  1. In Paper Size, scrool down to Postscript Custom Page Size.
  2. Click Edit Custom Page Size.
  3. Enter your desired dimensions. In this case we chose 8.5 x 11 inches.
  4. Click OK, and then OK again.
Choosing a custom page size in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Print and Save

  1. Click OK one more time.
  2. And then select Print.
  3. Save your new PDF file.

Confirm Your Resized PDF

  1. Click Menu Button.
  2. Choose Document Properties.
  3. Check new page size.
Checking the page size of a PDF.

That’s it! You’re done. Your PDF has been successfully resized. Note: This information is accurate as of the last Adobe Acrobat update, August 2023. Always check the latest software guidelines for updates.

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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How to Update Tooltips in a PDF

Welcome to today’s blog post. We’re discussing the importance of adding unique tooltips to PDF form fields with the same name. This boosts the accessibility of a PDF.

Video Guide

Why Unique Tooltips?

When PDF form fields share names, it’s confusing. Screen readers struggle. Users find it hard to know what each field is for. Setting unique tooltips solves this.

Steps to Update Tooltips

  1. Open File: Go to ‘Prepare a Form’. Select your file. Select ‘Create’.
  2. Check Existing Tooltips: Right-click the name fields and select properties. Look under ‘General’. Note existing tooltips.
  3. Make Tooltips Unique: Change ‘Name’ to ‘Applicant 1 Name’ for the first field. Change ‘Email’ to ‘Applicant 1 Email’ for the second field. Do the same for all the others.
  4. Repeat for All Fields: Email, address, etc., should also have unique tooltips.
Creating a unique tooltip for fields sharing the same name by specifying Applicant 1 Name

Adding Form Fields

Once tooltips are set, focus on organizing and correcting all your form fields.

  1. Find Unmarked Annotations: Open the ‘Accessibility Tags’ window. Click ‘Options’, choose ‘Find’ and search for ‘Unmarked Annotations’.
  2. Tag Form Elements: These will appear under a new section. Tag them.
  3. Add Placeholders: Create blank ‘p’ tags for each field. Move name, email, and address into these.
  4. Final Check: Run Jaws or any screen reader to ensure correct naming of all form fields.
Ensuring all form elements are tagged and moved to the correct place in a PDF

Result

After these steps, screen readers will identify each form field clearly. For example, ‘Applicant 1 Name’, ‘Applicant 2 Name’ and so on. This adds clarity for users.

Running a screen reader to ensure correct naming of all form fields

The Value of Unique Tooltips

Creating unique tooltips for each form field boosts user experience. They improve accessibility and help to make PDFs compliant with standards like PDF UA and Section 508. Remember, creating accessible documents is all in the details!

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

Making a PDF Accessible: Episode 03| Moorpark Community College

Welcome to episode three on making college PDFs accessible. Today, we focus on Moorpark Community College’s website. We look at their course wellness document to improve its digital inclusivity.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1 and Episode 2 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Key Takeaways from this Episode

This form was buggy right from the top and required a number of fixes. Here’s a summary what we did to make this PDF accessible.

Extracting pages to get to the “Prepare Form” options

The PDF seemed to be an old version of the form that wasn’t cooperating with the new version of Acrobat. We extracted the pages from each other and recombined them to create a new PDF. Editing went smoothly from there.

Proper tag structure

We used the auto-tagger. While it added some tags it wasn’t perfect. Every Form tag should be nested inside of a P tag.

An accessible PDF shows all form tags nested inside of a P tag

Tagging references (adding a link to reference)

Under ‘Prepare for Accessibility’, select the Reading Order Tool to create a reference. Next, select the content needing the reference, right click, create link, use page view and invisible rectangle, and hit next. Scroll down to where you want the link to go, select it, hit create link. This particular reference tag will link to the note.

Creating a link in an accessible PDF

Fixing tagged annotations

From the Accessibility Tags panel on the right, click options, select find, choose unmarked annotations, find. When the link is found, tag it and close.

Fixing titles

From the start we noted primary language, title, and character encoding fails. After reformatting and getting our p tags properly nested, we were able to fix the primary language and title fails. Just right click Title – Failed and select fix. Easy pass.

Fixing the title fail after reformatting p tags in a PDF

Creating tag from selection

This breaks apart the text from the form field, creating an accessible PDF. Select the text you want to tag, navigate to the Accessibility Tags panel, choose options, then select create tag from selection. To finalize the section, artifact the blank lines and delete their p tags.

How to separate text field from form field by creating tag from selection.

Embedding Fonts

Navigate to All Tools, use print production, add printer marks, preflight menu, fix font encoding, embed missing fonts.

Embedding fonts from the preflight menu in Adobe Acrobat

Fixing character encoding

This is a little tricky so save your PDF in case it breaks. Select edit from the top right, and delete the items out. In this case the check boxes are still in the form. We don’t need the placeholders. We deleted the square text in the background to fix this fail.

Deleting the background text to fix character codes in a PDF

Set PDF UA

Run the PAC tool to ensure PDF UA and WCAG compliance.

Running the PAC tool on a PDF to ensure PDF/UA accessibility

Conclusion

This review involved some interesting fixes that transformed Moorpark’s existing document into an accessible PDF. The solutions provided ensure better user experience and make it compliant with standards like PDF UA and Section 508. Remember, accessibility takes time but is vital for inclusivity.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

PDF Extraction with Adobe Acrobat (new): A Step-by-Step Guide

Video Guide

In most document formats (DOC, XLS or CSV) extracting pieces of information is a simple copy and paste function. PDFs are a little more challenging. Using this blog post, with the above video guide as an example, we’ll show you how to perform a complete PDF extraction using the updated Adobe Acrobat interface.

PDF Extraction

First, head over to Adobe Acrobat and open up the PDF you wish to break up into smaller segments. Select the Organize Pages tool on the left. You’ll see thumbnails of each page of your PDF. You can zoom in and out as needed.

Next, hold down the Shift key and select the thumbnails for each page you’d like to extract from the main PDF.

Hold down Shift key to select pages for extraction

Move back to the Organized Pages tool on the left and select Extract Pages. Then, select Delete Pages After Extracting to isolate these pages from the main PDF.

Extracting pages from original PDF

Finally, select Extract.

Notice the tabs at the top now show the original PDF and your new PDF extraction. We’ll rename each extraction after we’ve created a number of them.

Time to head back to the original PDF. Again, hold down the Shift key to choose all the files needed for your next PDF extraction. Select the Extract button, then Delete Pages After Extracting, then select Extract. This pulls those pages into another new PDF.

Then go back to the original PDF and repeat for each extraction you wish to make.

Organizing Your PDF Extractions

It’s time to start saving your PDF extractions.

Select the tab at the top you wish to rename, and click the X to close it out. You’ll be prompted to save it. Choose Yes, find where you want to save it, give it a name, and select Save.

Organizing and naming each extraction

Do this for each remaining segment you wish to create.

When you’re done you’ll have all your PDF extractions organized, with the original document still intact.

Conclusion:

Today we performed a number of PDF extractions from one large PDF file, using the new Adobe Acrobat interface. The original PDF was kept intact. Yet the information it contained is now easier to access and use in other applications.

As always, I can be your personal accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, please check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube.

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Table of Contents in Word for Accessibility – Create in 4 Easy Steps

In today’s blog post, we’ll dive into the essential skill of creating a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word. This simple yet powerful feature not only organizes your documents but also enhances accessibility.

Video Guide

Steps to Generate a Table of Contents in Word

Before we jump into the how-to, make sure your document contains heading styles. These styles are the foundation for generating an accessible Table of Contents.

Now, let’s walk through the process step by step.

1. Open Your Microsoft Word Document

Begin by opening your document. It should already have headings applied throughout its content.

Microsoft Word document with headings applied

2. Insert a Blank Page

To create a dedicated page for your Table of Contents, place your cursor at the very beginning of your document’s text. Press “Ctrl + Enter” to insert a page break. This separation ensures that your Table starts on a fresh page.

3. Access the Table of Contents Tool

Navigate to the “References” tab at the top of the Microsoft Word interface. Under this tab, you will find the “Table of Contents” dropdown menu.

Reference Tab on Microsoft Word showing Table of Contents dropdown menu

4. Choose a Table Style

In the dropdown, you’ll see a variety of automatic tables to choose from. For our purpose, select the first option, “Automatic Table 1.” This selection will insert a “Contents” heading followed by your Table of Contents.

5. That’s it – Your Table is complete!

It’s really that simple. The Table will include the “Heading Level 1” and “Heading Level 2” sections from your document. This makes it easy for readers to navigate your content, whether they’re using a screen reader or not.

Completed Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

For added accessibility, holding down the “Ctrl” key while clicking on one of the elements will take you to the desired location.

Conclusion

Thank you for joining us today to learn how to make your documents more accessible and user-friendly by creating a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word. With this simple addition, you can greatly improve the experience of your readers, including those who rely on assistive technology.

As always, I’m here to be your personal accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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