Documents lightning guide

For government lightning guide!

If you upload a PDF document, you must also publish an accessible HTML, Word or Rich Text Format alternative.

Security: strip metadata

When publishing documents on For government, remove:

  • hidden data and collaboration data (e.g. tracked changes and comments)
  • document history (e.g. author name)
  • unnecessary watermarks (e.g. draft)
  • blank pages and inside covers
  • decorative images and repeated headers and footers.


Word: File > Info > Check for Issues > Inspect document (note that your scan should find ‘document properties’—you will have inserted these when populating metadata).

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Tools > Protection > Hidden information > Sanitise document

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC: Tools > Redact (under Protect & Standardize) > Remove Hidden Information

SEO: populate metadata


The minimum metadata requirements for non-HTML documents are:

  • Title: the full title of your document (not the filename).
  • Subject: a concise free-text description of the content and/or purpose of the document.
  • Author: your agency or Queensland Government (not a person's name).
  • Keywords: words/phrases that add value or are alternative terms. Separate with commas.

Look for document properties in your program (e.g. in Word: File > Info > Properties).

Accessible content

Apply styles (Word) and tags (PDF) to give hierarchical context to headings and text.


  • Meaningful column headings—set first row as ‘header row’.
  • Simple table layout—no tables within tables, or split rows/columns.
  • Use only for tabular data, not for page layout—split complex tables into smaller simple tables.


Provide text alternatives (alt text) for images that convey information, including graphs or charts (not decorative images). For complex graphics and charts, write a text equivalent below the image, and use 'Text equivalent follows' as the alt text.

Make header images a watermark and ensure important information is not contained in the footer (not readable by assistive technologies).

Try out this scan in Word: File > Info > Check accessibility.


Queensland Government

QGov online web writing and style guide, p24–30, 34–35.

CUE standard: Module 6—Non-HTML documents:

Checkpoint 2: Minimum accessibility requirements

Checkpoint 4: Document optimisation

Checkpoint 8: Metadata

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guides

How to meet WCAG 2.0

General techniques for WCAG 2.0

PDF techniques for WCAG 2.0

Multimedia accessibility

Microsoft guides

Creating accessible Word documents

Creating accessible Excel workbooks

Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations

Create accessible PDFs

UK government

Dos and don’ts on designing for accessibility