[Athen] ever okay to merge cells in Excel?

Robert Beach rbeach at KCKCC.EDU
Sat Sep 8 19:12:22 PDT 2018

This can still apply in Word as I've had lots of problems with merged cells there. If the table becomes too complex with merged and split cells, the screen reader doesn't read everything and the user soon becomes lost.

From: athen-list [athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu] on behalf of chagnon at pubcom.com [chagnon at pubcom.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2018 6:39 PM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network'
Subject: Re: [Athen] ever okay to merge cells in Excel?

Agree: ok to merge cells.
I think the recommendation of “no merged cells” is outdated from 15-20 years ago when screen readers didn’t recognize and announce them well.

I still have about 1 tech support call/email a month asking about this. It’s time for all of us to put this old recommendation out to pasture!

To add more details for folks creating tables in PDFs:

The merged cells should also have the span and scope placed on the final merged cell to indicate the columns and rows it applies to.

And in complex PDF tables with compound headers, also put header I D’s on them, too. Microsoft and Adobe are improving their tools to do this. Not perfect yet, but in progress and nice to see it improve.

—Bevi Chagnon

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From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Justin Romack
Sent: Saturday, September 8, 2018 5:21 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] ever okay to merge cells in Excel?

Howdy Krista - always good to see a post here from you.

Tristen is spot on. I'd also add that JAWS and NVDA do a great job of announcing when cells have been merged and which cell rows/columns are included in the merged area. I have never encountered a situation where merged cells posed a problem.

Hope you're doing well, friend.


Sent from my iPhone (and most likely transcribed by Siri)

On Sep 8, 2018, at 3:25 PM, Tristen Breitenfeldt (Wipro Ltd.) <tristenbreitenfeldt at gmail.com<mailto:tristenbreitenfeldt at gmail.com>> wrote:
Hi Krista,
I hope you are doing well.

>From a screen reader accessibility perspective, merging cells in Excel is fine and in some cases highly preferable. For example, when you have a row title which needs to apply to multiple consecutive rows, i.e., students with the last name Smith; Smith, Jane and Smith, John.

Hope that helps.

Tristen Breitenfeldt
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