Checking PDF for Tags

Most PDF testing tools, including Acrobat Reader X, will report correctly if a PDF document contains tags or not. In order to be functionally accessible, the tag structure needs to logically follow the structure of the document. To verify this, you will need a program that enables you to view the Tags order and structure, such as Acrobat Pro X.

Generally, there are three tests associated with checking for a Functionally Accessible Tag structure:

  • Check for the Existence of Tags – check for the existence of tags only, not for proper use
  • Check for Correct Tags – determine if tags are used correctly, based on a quick view of the Tags panel
  • Check if Tags Follow Document Structure – compare results in the Tags panel to the actual document

Opening the Tags Panel

Access the Tags panel by the VIEW menu item in the top navigation bar. From VIEW, select SHOW/HIDE, select NAVIGATION PANES, and select TAGS. Once you have opened the Tags panel in this manner, it will dock on your left toolbar, which also contains icons for pages and bookmarks.

The Tags panel can be accessed through the VIEW menu item

Check for the Existence of Tags

Opening the Tags panel will indicate if the document is Tagged.

  1. An untagged document will open the panel and display the message “No Tags available.”
  2. If tags are present, the panel will show “Tags” and have a plus sign next to it to expand the tags in a tree format.

"No Tags Available" in the tags panel means the document has not been tagged.

Check for Correct Tags

Just because a document contains Tags, it does not mean they are being used correctly. For example, you may find that the Tags structure contains Table Tags, but the tables in the document may have been used for layout rather than for data reporting. Or, you may see that no Heading structure was used. A quick glance at the list of Tags can help you determine if headings have been used properly to represent the document.

Just looking at what Tags are in the tree can tell you if they appear to be correctly used.