How to tag references, footnotes, and end notes in Adobe Acrobat

At this time there is not clear guidance from WCAG on how to exactly tag references, footnotes, and end notes. This post and video aims to explore the best methods for tagging this content.

Video Overview

Instructional Guide

There are two separate components to tagging footnotes or endnotes.

The first part is the superscript number in the main body of the document. For footnotes, the second part is the note itself, which appears at the bottom of the page. Endnotes show up at the end of the document.

Implementing Reference Tags in Adobe Acrobat

The first step in adding footnotes and references in Adobe Acrobat is to create a reference tag. Contrary to what you might think, a span tag does not serve our purpose here. While span tags are visually useful, they don’t carry any real value in terms of accessibility.

To create a reference tag, right-click on the Tag, select Properties, and change it to a reference. Simple as that!

Linking References to Endnotes

Next, you should consider linking your footnotes to the corresponding endnotes. Although this is not a requirement, it significantly enhances the reader’s navigation through the document. To create this link, right-click the reference number and select Create Link. Under link action, choose Go to page view and select Next. Then, scroll down to your endnotes and click set link. This process creates a hyperlink that leads directly to the relevant spot in the document.

Three methods reference in video:

Method 1:

Apply alternate text that provides guidance on where the endnote or reference leads to. For instance, the alternate text could be “superscript one refers to endnote one on page two”. This alerts the screen reader user about what the reference or endnote signifies.

Apply alternate text that provides guidance on where the endnote or reference leads to. For instance, the alternate text could be "superscript one refers to endnote one on page two". This alerts the screen reader user about what the reference or endnote signifies.

Method 2:

Arrange the reading order so that the note is read directly after the reference. To do this, move the actual content of the note under the reference tag. In this arrangement, the paragraph is read first, followed by the reference, the note, and then the main content.

 Arrange the reading order so that the note is read directly after the reference. To do this, move the actual content of the note under the reference tag. In this arrangement, the paragraph is read first, followed by the reference, the note, and then the main content.

Method 3:

Include the note’s content in the alternate text. For this, copy the note’s content and paste it onto the actual text field of the reference. The alternate text could then read “superscript one. [content of the note]”. After this, change the endnote content to an artifact and delete the tags.

Include the note's content in the alternate text. For this, copy the note's content and paste it onto the actual text field of the reference. The alternate text could then read "superscript one. [content of the note]". After this, change the endnote content to an artifact and delete the tags.

Order 508 documents

More PDF Posts

Adobe Acrobat’s New Accessibility Features

Adobe has laid the groundwork for some major new features in the future. Check out the latest post on the New Auto Tagging Feature. Video Overview: Exploring the Adobe Acrobat New Accessibility Features Adobe Acrobat has launched…

Canva PDFs are not accessible

This post aims to explore how Canva PDFs are not accessible to people with disabilities. It seems like such a basic need at this point for any modern website to allow for exporting with a structure in…