Review Reading Order in Order Panel

1. Review Reading Order in Tags Panel

2. Review Reading Order in Order Panel

3. Export/Save As Text Accessible

4. Assistive Technology to Check Reading Order

Using the Order Panel

When you open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat, the first thing you will notice are the series of menus at the top and left side of the window.  The Order panel is located on the left side of the window (Navigation Panel) and allows you to view, re-order, and re-tag structured PDF information.  To view the Order panel, do the following:

  1. Click the Order button located on the Navigation Panel on the left side of the window.  If the Order button is not docked on the left side of the window:
  1. Go to the View menu, select Navigation Panels, and select Order.  The Order button will now be available for you to select from the Navigation Panel on the left
  1. The Order panel will display.  In the Order panel, you will see the outline of all the pages and components that make up your document.  If this outline is not already expanded, you can select the maximize button (+) next to the name of the document in the Order panel to expand it.

    Expand the outline by selecting the maximize button.

When you select the Order panel, a series of numbered gray boxes will highlight the different components that make up your PDF document indicating numerically the reading order of each component and section on each page. The numbers match up with the numbered items you see in the Order panel. Notice that when you select an item from the Order panel, the gray boxes on the document will become highlighted in light blue. The gray numbered boxes start at number 1 on each page of the PDF document. Take note of any items in the document that are labeled numerically in the wrong order. This will affect the order the items are read to a user using a screen reader and the order the information appears in a text version of the PDF document.

Notice that the reading order for the PDF document shown above begins with "New Workshop for Faculty" in the Order panel.  This does not match the reading order in the Tags panel which begins with information about figures in the PDF as seen in our example in the Using the Tags panel section.  You will need to correct the reading order in the Order panel to match that of the Tags panel, or if you want the PDF to be read in the order the Order panel displays, you will need to go back into the Tags panel and re-arrange the tags accordingly.

To correct the reading order of a PDF document, do the following:

  1. From the Order panel, navigate to the page of the document that has the incorrect reading order.
  2. Expand the outline of items for that page by clicking the expand (+) button.
  3. You will see a series of small tan box icons next to each component on that page.  Noting the number of the items on the page, place your cursor on the tan box for the component you want to re-order, and drag-and-drop the box above or below items in the outline.  The selected item will be re-numbered according to the location where it was dragged and dropped.  Verify between the document view and the Order panel that the items are numbered correctly.
  4. After editing the reading order, go back to the Tags panel and make sure the Tags panel matches the Order panel.  If it does not, then begin re-ordering tags as appropriate.

Video Tutorial - Using the Order Panel to Assess Reading Order (4:17)


  • This training has been funded in part by the EnACT (Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology) grant. 
  • Written and developed by Sacramento State Online Learning professionals, Monica Range and Cryssel Vera and technical crew, Ivan Vajar, Ken Young, and Jennifer Wicks with guidance from the CSU Professional Development Work Group.


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