How to set the reading order of a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Setting the reading order can be tricky in a PDF. There are several items to consider including the content panel, the z order panel, and tags panel.

Video Overview of how to set the reading order of a PDF

Match the content panel with the reading order panel

If you’re just starting, it’s best to start adjusting the content panel first. Then, you’ll move on to the read order panel and finish with the tags panel. Most assistive technology will follow the tags panel.

  1. Open up the content view on the far left side (Important: Do not remove anything from the content panel. This could remove it from the document’s structure and cause issues with the document itself.).
  2. Use the down arrow to follow the structure of the content to ensure everything is in the correct reading order.
  3. If there’s anything out of place, move it to the correct spot in the content panel.
  4. Once you’ve finished reordering things in the content panel, check the read order panel to see if the content was updated correctly.
  5. Then, check the tags panel to see if the copy was updated.

Match the reading order panel with the tags panel

Once you’ve ensured everything is in the correct order in the content panel, you’ll want to adjust the reading order panel (z order panel). There are a couple of helpful tools in the reading order panel. Once you’ve selected the reading order panel, here’s how you’ll parse through it:

  1. Select the accessibility button.
  2. From there, select the reading order button.
  3. Choose “Show page content groups” followed by the “Page content order” button in the Reading Order popup. By doing this, you’ll see display boxes of content with numbers on the page for easy viewing of the reading order.

Final Step

Walk the tags panel to ensure everything is in the correct order.

If your document is missing tags – check out the other posts on this page.

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