Alternatives to tables
Tables aren’t the most accessible way to present information in a web page, Word document, or PowerPoint presentation. You should avoid them if you can, and if you can’t, you should make them as simple as possible.
There are two instances where you should particularly avoid tables:
- If your table is very small and contains short, simple information.
- If your table is very large and would be difficult to follow just by audio or to read comfortably on a small screen, such as a mobile.
For instance, if the table you want to make only has two or three columns or rows it’s likely you could use a simpler way to display the information, such as a bullet point list.
Or if the table is too big that it fills the screen, you could split it into a series of bulleted lists under headings, or into smaller tables under headings.
What and why: Tables can be cumbersome to explore and understand via audio only (such as via a screen reader) so should only be used when absolutely necessary.
Also consider how your table might look on mobile phones and for people who use screen magnification. These people might struggle to read your table.
Although a table may be a convenient way to display your information, consider whether your execution compromises people’s ability to understand that information.
Alternatives to small tables
Could the same information be communicated via one or more simple bulleted lists instead?
For example, a table about which plants are in the garden and which plants are not, could be presented as:
Plants in the garden
Plants not in the garden
Alternatives to large tables
Split into smaller tables or bulleted lists
If you have a large table, try splitting it into bulleted lists under a series of headings.
If you can’t avoid a table format, then try breaking it down into smaller tables under a series of headings. This means less risk of the table being too big for the screen and will make your information easier to navigate across mobile and for people using things like screen readers.
If you are not able to use any of the options previously mentioned and your table is large or complex, it might be better presented in a spreadsheet.
See our guidance on links to downloads for more information on linking to a spreadsheet file accessibly.