A quick guide to government website online documents.


Website pages are made up of simple, non-proprietary HTML files that allow for information to be easily accessed by anyone regardless of device or language. ProudCity classifies all non-HTML files as documents.

Documents are usually stored in proprietary formats, such as Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf) or Microsoft Word (.doc). Regardless of the format, documents must be easily accessible, which means they must share the same standards as web pages:

  • Searchable: Words/phrases can be easily found using in-document search.
  • Structured: Information in the document is hierarchically organized or headings can be easily rendered in an outline format.
  • Translatable: Text can be relatively easily translated to another language.
  • Extractable: Information can be copy/pasted, scraped or exported in a way free from formatting/aesthetics.

Fillable forms

Fillable forms within documents, such as PDF forms, must also adhere to accessibility standards. Related information:

Do’s and don’ts


  • Default to open/web/text-based information/formats (like HTML).
  • Follow proper guidance from the respective document companies on accessible best practices (see resources below).
  • Use built-in headings and styles.
  • Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.
  • Use proper header formats (h1, h2, h3 etc.) for headings.
  • Use accessible colors.
  • Provide alternative text for visuals (images, charts).


  • Use photocopied or scanned files.
  • Use proprietary formats (i.e. .pdf, .doc) unless you absolutely must.
  • Use bold or larger font sizing to format headings.
  • Extensively rely on (or use) color when formatting.


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