Information Services Division


PDF documents

PDFs can be created by scanning a physical copy such as a piece of paper. They can also be created by converting files from other sources such as Word or PowerPoint.

Creating PDFs

Scanned PDFs

A scanned PDF will usually be an image and may therefore not be readable to screen readers. You can however use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert a scanned image to readable text. UCL's Sensus Access service will automatically convert an image only PDF, image file or PowerPoint into a more accessible format (text, e-book or digital Braille).

Converting to PDF

It is best, wherever possible, to publish information in HTML format. The Government Digital Service blog explains why you shouldn't use PDFs but should use HTML instead

If you have an original Word or PowerPoint file to share it is advisable to include the original format alongside any converted PDF versions. If you do need to create a PDF you can follow some simple steps to make it as accessible as possible.  Most recent versions of Office will allow you to easily convert Word or PowerPoint files by saving them as PDFs. When creating PDFs in this way:

  • ensure that you have formatted your file correctly using heading styles, alt text and descriptive hyperlinks;
  • Select the Document structure tags for accessibility checkbox and then select OK.

Further guidance on PDF creation