How to Add Tags to a PDF Document

by Virginia DeBolt

If you are interested in making your PDFs capable of use by screenreaders or small screens where the content must reflow to fit the screen, you need to use a structured document with tags added. Tags can only be added to a document with a full version of Acrobat; the Adobe Reader isn't capable of doing this. Here is how.

No tags yet

Open the PDF in Acrobat. You can tell if there are any tags already in the file by looking at the tags sidebar. In this example, there are no tags yet.

Add Tags menu item

Use the Acrobat menu to add tags. In the Advanced menu, select Accessibility > Add Tags to Document.

The first screen that opens in the tags sidebar is a Recognition Report which points out some of the missing accessibility information. Take a good look at what you're missing here. You'll need to address each item to make the PDF document usable and accessible for the small screen and screen readers, then select the tag icon on the far left side of the sidebar to move onto the tags category.

Tags listed

The complete list of tags and figures are given in the tags sidebar. Each one can be individually opened to examine.

To make changes in Figures, first highlight the figure you want to edit in the document window. It will be highlighted in the tags panel. Use right-click or ctrl-click to select the Properties menu for the item.

TouchUp Properties dialog box

The TouchUp Properties dialog opens. Here you can add alt text and other accessiblility features.

When you save and close the document, the Recognition Report will disappear, but you will still have access to the Tags sidebar when you reopen the document. If you want the information, you can run various accessibility reports using the Advanced menu.


  • check If possible, get someone with a PDA or screen reader to check your file for problems.

Items you will need

About the Author

I'm an HTML and CSS writer. I'm interested in web standards and web accessibility. Check my blog article on The Joy of HTML at for an explanation of my quote about HTML. I've written two books about HTML and CSS. The latest is Mastering Integrated HTML and CSS (Wiley, 2007). The first is Integrated HTML and CSS: A Smarter, Faster Way to Learn (Sybex, 2004). I also blog about web design topics at

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