Touching Up Reading Order with Acrobat 7

Yet another reason for using a tagged PDF document is to organize its reading order. You can use the TouchUp Reading Order tool to define individual content elements on a page and then order them as desired.

Select the TouchUp Reading Order tool in the TouchUp subtoolbar of the Advanced Editing toolbar, or choose Advanced > Accessibility > TouchUp Reading Order.

Click the page with the tool. The TouchUp Reading Order dialog opens, and the content of the page is shown in separate gray numbered blocks. The numbers identify the document’s reading sequence (Figure 88a).

src=’’ width=’475′ height=’362′
alt=’TouchUp Reading Order Tool’>

Figure 88a. The TouchUp Reading Order tool shows how a document is read by identifying components of the page and numbering them in sequence. Use the dialog to change the identification of components in a document.

Here are some tips for using the tool and touchup process:

  • Decide how you want to handle images with captions. Screen readers define a caption within a figure tag as a part of the image and it isn’t read. On the other hand, using the figure/caption tag separates the caption from the body text.
  • Need some bookmarks? Tag selections as headings and then convert the heading tags to bookmarks. See tips in Chapter 3 for using bookmarks in various Office programs; see Chapter 14 to learn how to work with bookmarks in Acrobat.
  • Use the Cell tag to identify a table cell if it is split incorrectly.
  • Extra spaces, lines, tabs, and so on added in the source document are identified in the reading order. Either tag the offending object as a background element, also known as an artifact, or remove it altogether (Figure 88b).

src=’’ width=’400′ height=’406′
alt=’Revoval of an extraneous object’>

Figure 88b. Remove extraneous objects or define them as background elements, such as object 3 in the figure.

  • If your page is a mess of extraneous and incorrect tags, click Clear Structure and then rebuild the page’s structure.
  • Change the reading order quickly in the Order pane. Click the icon to the left of the number of the object you want to move and drag it up or down. A horizontal bar displays on the pane showing the position where the object will be placed when you release the mouse (Figure 88c).

src=’’ width=’283′ height=’227′
alt=’The Order Pane’>

Figure 88c. Reorder the reading order in a document by dragging objects up and down in the Order pane’s list.

Keep It Organized

It’s often easier to work with the reading order if you are zoomed out of the page. However, that’s hard on your eyes. To easily select content, see what you are doing, and control the reading order assignment, arrange the dialog, page, and Order pane across the program window. Select objects by clicking them on the Order pane.

Order, Please

By default the reading order of a page is assigned from left to right, top to bottom. You can assign a different order. Choose Edit > Preferences > TouchUp. Click the TouchUp Reading Order pull-down menu and choose an alternate order.

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About the Author: Dan Shea

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