Repeated blank characters
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MICROSOFT WORD 2010
508 ACCESSIBILITY CHECKLIST

Icon depicting repeated blank characters

Repeated blank characters

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Requirements for 508 compliance

Use paragraph spacing settings instead of carriage returns when additional line spacing is needed between paragraphs.


How to test

Watch video (0:53 secs)

Video On Demand buttonVideo On Demand button - EWD version

Have carriage returns been used in place of paragraph spacing formatting?

To determine whether multiple blank characters have been used for spacing/layout:

  • Run the accessibility checker: "Repeated blank characters"


How to fix

Watch video (3:23 mins)

Video On Demand buttonVideo On Demand button - EWD version

To show/find Repeated Blank Characters

  • Show blank (non-printing) Characters: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + C.

    Show blank (non-printing) Characters: CTRL + SHIFT + *.


    Inset shows a report page as it would print. The main picture shows the same report page as it would appear on screen with multiple repeated non-printing characters showing.
  • Repeated blank characters that need to be removed and replaced are:

    • Paragraph marks

      Five repeated Paragraph Marks shown
    • Manual line break marks

      Five repeated Manual Line Break Marks shown
    • Tab Characters

      Multiple repeated Tab Characters shown
    • Spaces

      Multiple repeated Space Characters shown

To remove and replace repeated paragraph marks (and manual line break marks)

  • Delete unnecessary blank characters

  • Select the remaining single paragraph mark (or select the single paragraph)

  • On the Page Layout Tab, in the Paragraph Group, select the Spacing options for Before and/or After the selected paragraph. (e.g., If the font is 12pt high, and 4 blank lines After are to be replaced, set After to 48pt).

Four of five repeated 12 point high Paragrah Mark characters are deleted and replaced by one Paragraph Mark that has 48 points of space after it.

Note: There should be only one paragraph marker per paragraph, as a general rule.

Note: To control different types of paragraph spacing for a large document, it is easiest to use the Paragraph settings in Styles.



To remove and replace repeated Tab Characters and Spaces used for indenting text

  • Delete unnecessary blank characters

  • Select the paragraph

  • On the Page Layout Tab, in the Paragraph Group, select the Indent options for the selected paragraph.

Repeated Tab characters have been used to indent a heading 4 inches from the left margin. The Tab characters are deleted and the Paragraph Indent setting is set to 4 inches.

Note: It may be useful to show the Ruler when setting indents: In the View Tab in the Show Group, Select Ruler.


Checking the show Ruler option in the Ribbon.

Note: To control different types of Indents for a large document, it is easiest to use the Paragraph settings in Styles.



To remove and replace repeated Tab Characters and Spaces used for setting columns

  • Delete unnecessary blank characters and move any errant text so that it becomes one continuous paragraph


    Text is two columns is shoddily created using space characters between the columns. The text is selected and rearranged so that it is in one regular paragraph.

  • Select the paragraph


    The single paragraph of text is selected.

  • On the Page Layout Tab, in the Page Setup Group, select Columns. Choose a preconfigured option from the list, or choose More Columns… to set your own column preferences.


    Selecting the 'More Columns' in the Ribbon

  • If More Columns… is chose, the Columns dialog box appears. Set your preferences in the dialog box.


    The columns dialog box shows the settings that will be used on the selected text.


  • The selected text is correctly set in columns.


    The final result shows the text in two columns. The text is bounded by new Section Break markers.

Note: Setting paragraphs of text in columns also divides the content into sections. Section break characters will also appear if non-printing Characters are showing: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + C.

Note: Setting paragraphs of text in columns also divides the content into sections. Section break characters will also appear if non-printing Characters are showing: CTRL + SHIFT + *.


Examples

Use paragraph spacing settings instead of carriage returns when additional line spacing is needed between paragraphs.

Correct:

(Select the image to download example file in MS Word format)


An excerpt of a report page as it would appear on screen with proper formatting. Indents, line spacing, and columns are all correctly set. There are no repeated blank characters.

Incorrect:

(Select the image to download example file in MS Word format)


An excerpt of a report page as it would appear on screen with multiple repeated non-printing characters showing. Indents, line spacing, and columns are all incorrectly set with repeated blank characters.
Rationale

Use paragraph spacing settings instead of carriage returns when additional line spacing is needed between paragraphs.

Excess carriage returns are spoken by screen readers, interfering with normal reading.

Legal References

508 references:

1194.31(b).

WCAG references:

WCAG-AAA: 1.4.8.

All Microsoft Word Requirements


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