Create accessible emails with Microsoft Outlook
In this section we will cover how to create accessible emails using Microsoft Outlook.
Before you get started, please read the Accessibility fundamentals page first. Following that, here are some additional key points specific to Outlook:
- Email recipient’s personal settings: although email formatting is also influenced by the software the recipient uses to open an email, it’s still important to create more accessible emails.
- Font sizes: paragraph font sizes need to be a minimum of 12 point and not the default Microsoft Office 11 point. 14 point is considered more accessible and good practice for paragraph text though.
- Outlook Styles: use Styles to format your email including using heading styles and correctly formatted bullet points.
- HTML: accessibility tools such as screen readers can read messages better if they are formatted using HTML rather than plain text.
- Email signature: ensure your email signature is also accessible. Use the same font sizes as you would for the body of your message. Email signature graphics also need to be readable, so if there is text within the graphic, make sure that is also clear and big enough. ALT (alternative) text descriptions should also be included to describe the important information in the graphic.
Use the Outlook Accessibility Checker
The Accessibility Checker is available in both Outlook Online and on Desktop. To ensure that your email can be read by a diverse range of people, you should run the Accessibility Checker. This inspects your email for elements that would potentially cause problems for accessibility tools such as a screen reader. Errors, warnings and tips are displayed in the inspection results, along with information as to why and how to fix the issue. Whilst the Accessibility Checker is a really useful tool, it does not currently check all accessibility issues that are covered by the WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
Depending on the version of Outlook you are using, the Accessibility Checkers can be accessed either from the File tab or the 3 dot ellipsis menu in Office 365 Mail.
Microsoft Outlook tutorials
Learn how to create more accessible Outlook emails with training videos and online tutorials created by Microsoft:
- Create more accessible email messages in Outlook (support.office.com)
- How to make your Outlook emails accessible for people with disabilities (support.office.com)
- Learn about the Accessibility Checker (support.office.com)
- Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker (support.office.com)
- Outlook tips and tricks (support.office.com)
Learn more about Microsoft Outlook
The IT Training Unit offer:
- Microsoft Office training for staff (IT website)
- Microsoft Office training for researchers (IT website)
Online courses are also available:
Written by Kirsten Thompson and Jane Hetherington | Last updated 08/02/21