[Athen] Inline Images and PDF Tags

Steve Green steve.green at testpartners.co.uk
Fri Apr 30 16:11:29 PDT 2021

It’s strange that you should post this message now, because literally one minute ago I sent a lengthy email to all our staff explaining why they must not use Adobe Acrobat Pro's plug-in for MS Word for creating PDFs.

One of the reasons is that it does not seem to recognise the “Mark as decorative” checkbox in Word’s Alt Text pane, and it adds bizarre Alternate Text such as P1070TB2#y1.

Another issue relates to the use of simple text boxes in Word. Although we discourage their use, there are times that you want or need to use them. You can put images in the textbox, which can potentially cause a problem because you can add Alt Text to both the image and the textbox. If you do that, the Acrobat Accessibility Checker reports a failure due to nested Alternate Text, which is perfectly reasonable – you can’t have Alt Text inside other Alt Text.

The “solution” is to mark the text box as decorative and only add Alt Text to the image. If you “Save as PDF”, this does exactly what you would expect. The image is in the Tags panel with its Alternate Text. The text box is artifacted.

You might expect the Adobe Acrobat Pro plug-in to do the same, or at least do something intelligent, but it doesn’t do either of those. It puts both the image and text box in the Tags panel. As discussed above, it adds random Alternate Text to the text box. It then deletes the Alt Text you added to the image, and to add insult to injury, the Acrobat Accessibility Checker fails because of the missing Alternate Text!

I have also noticed the sort of issues you reported.

For the time being, my recommendation is to use Word’s “Save as PDF” feature instead.

BTW, all the images were missing from your email.

Steve Green
Managing Director
Test Partners Ltd

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Joseph Polizzotto MA
Sent: 30 April 2021 23:53
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Inline Images and PDF Tags

Hi Everyone:

I encountered a problem when converting an MS Word document with inline images using Adobe Acrobat Pro's plug-in for MS Word.

The problem is that the inline images appear in the incorrect place within the PDF tags panel. Specifically, the <Figure> tags for the inline images are located after the entire <P> tag with which they are associated.

Instead of the MS Word paragraph being broken up into separate chunks of content within the <P> PDF tag, the paragraph is contained as one block of text inside the <P> tag and the inline images are represented as <Figure> tags after that block.

For example, in the following snippet of an MS Word document, where P and V are inline images in the sentence:

alt=Boyle's law (where P is the pressure and V is the volume)

I find the following structure in the PDF tags panel:

Boyle's law (where is the pressure and is the volume)

If I remove the tags and add them back using Adobe Acrobat Pro, the <Figure> tags will be in the correct place, in between the correct blocks of text, but the alternative text for the images will be lost.

This is the desired tag structure:

Boyle's law (where
is the pressure and
is the volume

What have you done to address this issue? Is there a way to avoid having to remediate the PDF tags for this issue and get the correct tag order for inline images when using Adobe Acrobat Pro's plug-in for MS Word?

Note: I am using my MS Word's 365 (subscription) version with the continuous release version of Adobe Acrobat Pro (2021). I have attached the documents as well.

Thanks for your help,


Alternate Media Supervisor
Disabled Students' Program
University of California, Berkeley
(510) 642-0329

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