Relevant table elements and properties must be utilized for data tables

Rule ID: table-element-markup
Ruleset: axe-pdf 2.0
User Impact: Critical
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)]

  • 1.3.1: MUST: Info and Relationships

WCAG Success Criteria [WCAG 2.0 (A)]

  • 1.3.1: MUST: Info and Relationships

How to Fix the Problem

Tag the data table with appropriate and relevant table elements and properties.

Within PDF documents, a table uses the following structure types for table elements and properties:

  • A table element (Table).
  • One or more table row elements(TR) which define each row of table cells as immediate children of the Table element.
  • One or more table header elements (TH) or table data elements (TD) as the immediate children of each table row element.
  • Cells that span two or more rows or columns should use the RowSpan or ColSpan attribute.
  • For tables that contain blank cells, you may need to add empty TD cells so that each row or column has the same number of cells.

It is recommended to create an accurate table with proper table structure in the source document to allow the conversion process to automatically create the tables. In order to create the tables within the PDFs, refer to the links in the Resources section.

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

Screen readers have a specific way of announcing tables. When tables are not properly marked up, this creates the opportunity for confusing or inaccurate screen reader output.

When tables are not marked up semantically and do not have the correct header structure, screen reader users cannot correctly perceive the relationships between the cells and their contents visually.

Rule Description

Data Tables must be tagged appropriately so that they are recognized by assistive technology.

The Algorithm (in simple terms)

Relevant table elements and properties must be utilized for data tables


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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