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Government of

Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

PDF content standards for

About PDF documents

PDFs are meant for distributing documents that users will print. They're designed for paper sizes, not browser windows or mobile devices. Content is split up across sheets of paper, which can mean they are difficult for customers to use online.

PDFs are also text heavy and often use large size graphics that increase their file size.

HTML by default

The Web Services team encourage HTML by default for website content. We aim to make government information and services open to all, easy to find and easy to use.

Information or forms published in a PDF format:

  • are harder to find
  • difficult to maintain
  • difficult for our customers to use
  • cause difficulty for navigation and orientation
  • are not designed to be read on screens
  • less likely to be kept up to date

They often do not meet World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards for accessibility.

Accessibility and PDF documents

We aim to conform to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 for

This is also highlighted in the Engagement and Information Improvement report, under actions A28 and A30.

If a PDF must be published on, it should:

  • be written in Plain English
  • follow our style guide
  • consider user experience
  • consider device sizes (mobile, tablet and desktop)
  • meet accessibility requirements for WCAG 2.1
  • consider reduced file sizes

WCAG have published a set of guidelines for creating more accessible PDF documents for the widest possible audience.

PDF Techniques on

How a PDF meets these guidelines is reliant on the person creating the document and the content within the document. Components can vary between the software or product being used to create the document (for example Microsoft or Adobe) and PDF viewing application or software.

Images and alt text

If a PDF includes images, formulas, graphs or other content that isn't text based, it should include an alt tag.

Alt (alternative) text guide

Style and standards

All documents published on should meet our style and standards set out in our:

How to check for accessibility using Microsoft products (Word, Powerpoint)

Microsoft publish guides and information on how create accessible documents and how to check accessibility. They also provide online training.

Make your content accessible to everyone Microsoft support

Accessibility technology and tools Microsoft accessibility

Accessibility fundamentals training by Microsoft

Accessibility fundamentals overview Web Accessibility Initiative

How to check for accessibility using graphic design products

Adobe publish guides and information on how to create accessible documents and how to check accessibility. They also have guides on reporting the accessibility status of documents and documentation of fixing problems.

Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro)

Resources and acknowledgments

The following websites have been used for resources and research when putting together this guide:

PDF accessibility on WebAIM

Use of PDFs and office documents on NHS digital

Avoid PDF for on screen reading

Why GOV.UK content should be published in HTML and not PDF

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