Tables

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Overview

Tables should only be used to present data. Do not use tables to adapt page layout on University pages. If you require layout adjustments, speak to a developer.

Avoid using tables if you can. Could the same information be communicated via one or more simple bulleted lists, for example? For some ideas on presenting tables in a different way, please see our guidance on alternatives to tables.

The minimum size for a table should be two columns and three rows (including a row for column headers). If your table is smaller, it may be better as normal text.

What and why: Using a table to adapt page layout can cause users of assistive technology unnecessary difficulty in navigating information. Tables can be cumbersome to explore and understand via audio only (such as via a screen reader) so should only be used when necessary.

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How to

Accessible tables in Jadu

How to create/fix an accessible table in older versions of Jadu

With the table already set, follow these steps:

  1. Left-click inside the table and go to ‘Table Properties’ in the toolbar.
  2. In the pop-up, click ‘Show’ next to ‘Header and Footer’ and then check the box ‘Include table heading’.
  3. This should add a new, grey (in the rich text editor) top row to your table, and you can create or move your column headings into this row.

How to create an accessible table in Jadu Continuum

With the table already set, follow these steps:

  1. Left-click inside the table and select the ‘Table’ icon in the toolbar.
  2. Ensure ‘First row’ is selected under ‘Headers’.

Adjusting a table's properties in Jadu.

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Accessible tables in WordPress

At this time, table creation is limited in University WordPress environments.  If you feel you need to add a table, you’re encouraged to use the TablePress plugin. This can be installed by logging a request with IT.

For other ways to present the same information, see our alternatives to tables guidance.

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Accessible tables in Word

With the table already set, follow these steps:

  1. Click inside your table. On the navigation panel, select ‘Table Design’.
  2. In ‘Table Style Options’, make sure ‘Header Row’, ‘First Column’ and ‘Banded Rows’ are checked.You can make your Microsoft Word tables more inclusive and accessible by using the available formatting options.
  3. Right-click the top row of the table. Choose ‘Table Properties’. In the pop-up window, select the ‘Row’ tab and check the box ‘Repeat as header row at the top of each page.’ Select ‘OK’.Ensure that a table had a header row in Microsoft Word.
  4. Restrict the table to your page width. Select the entire table and right click. Choose ‘Table Properties’. In the pop-up window, select the ‘Row’ tab and uncheck ‘Allow rows to break across pages.’Ensuring that a table does not break across pages in Microsoft Word.
  5. Add alt text to the table. Select the entire table and right-click. Choose ‘Table Properties’. In the pop-up window, select ‘Alt Text’ and add a title and a description of the table.Adding alternative text (alt text) to describe a table and make it accessible to screen reading technologies.

Tips

  • Add a header (title) above your table so it is clearly labelled.
  • Do not use merged or split cells, and try to simplify your table as much as possible.
  • Avoid empty spaces in the table. If it really can’t be avoided, write ‘No data’, or similar, within the cell.

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More about tables

Web best practice in detail

When looking at the HTML of tables, they should include basic elements:

  • Table headers should be marked up in HTML with: th
  • Table rows should be marked up in HTML with: tr
  • Data or information cells should be marked up in HTML with: td
  • The title of the table should be described in HTML with: caption
  • A short description of the table’s contents and its layout should be marked up in HTML for screen reader users with: summary

What and why: This mark-up allows tables to be properly understood by assistive technology so it can better communicate the information, for example to people with visual impairments. The ‘caption’ element also allows users to skip directly to the table on a page and ‘summary’ affords visually impaired users some of the information that’s implied through a table’s presentation.

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