Bookmarks should be utilized in long documents

Rule ID: bookmark-usage
Ruleset: axe-pdf 2.0
User Impact: Moderate
Guidelines: WCAG 2.1 (A), WCAG 2.0 (A)

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Compliance Data & Impact

User Impact


Disabilities Affected

  • Blind
  • Deafblind
  • Mobility


  • WCAG 2.1 (A)
  • WCAG 2.0 (A)

WCAG Success Criteria [WCAG 2.1 (A)]

  • 2.4.5: SHOULD: Multiple Ways

WCAG Success Criteria [WCAG 2.0 (A)]

  • 2.4.5: SHOULD: Multiple Ways

How to Fix the Problem

Create bookmarks that can be used to easily navigate the document.

If the source document contains accurate heading structures, it can be automatically converted into a PDF document with bookmarks.

From Word in Windows:

  1. Click on File > Save as Adobe PDF.
  2. In the pop-up dialog, click Options.
  3. In the next pop-up dialog, ensure the following options are checked: “Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF” and “Convert Word Headings to Bookmarks”.

From Word in Mac:

  1. Go to File > Save As.
  2. In the File Format drop-down menu, select PDF.
  3. Select the "Best for electronic distribution and accessibility" radio button.
  4. Click Export.

If the bookmarks did not get created during the conversion process or want to include new bookmarks, in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. In the Bookmarks panel, choose the options menu, then choose New Bookmarks From Structure.
  2. From the Structure Elements dialog, select the elements you want specified as tagged bookmarks.

Note: Adobe Acrobat Pro is the most common tool for PDF remediations, but other tools and software are also available and can be used to remediate the PDF.

Why it Matters

A person with cognitive disabilities may prefer a hierarchical outline that provides an overview of the document rather than reading and traversing through many pages. This is also a conventional means of navigating a document that benefits all users.

Rule Description

Bookmarks should be utilized to aid navigation in long documents.

The Algorithm (in simple terms)

Bookmarks should be utilized in long documents


Other Resources

You may also want to check out these other resources.

Refer to the complete list of axe 2.0 rules.

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