Tests to verify reading order makes logical sense

Overview

Although a document may visually appear to read correctly, the underlying reading order may not be correct.

As well, some documents – flyers, brochures – visually do not always read in a left to right, top to bottom order. The initial focus may be on a completly different area. When linearized, this needs to be taken into account.

Below are a few tests to check if the reading order makes sense when linearized.

Weakness

Reading Order is based on a single page. You cannot create a reading order such as the first item is a block of text on page one then next is a block of text from page two then the next is back on page one.

Step 1: Using Reflow to check reading order

Procedure

You can reflow a PDF to temporarily present it as a single column that is the width of the document pane.

This reflow view can make the document easier to read on the small screen of a mobile device or on a standard monitor at a large magnification, without the need to scroll horizontally to read each line of text.

Acrobat temporarily tags an untagged document before reflowing it. As an author, you can optimize your PDFs for reflow by tagging them yourself.

1. Open the document (this test done in Acrobat Pro 9)
2. Open your document and increase the text size to 300% or more. You can increase the text size in a number of ways:
– Press CTRL + M and enter the magnification percent;
– Press CTRL and the plus sign (+);
– from the VIEW menu, choose “Zoom to:”;
– Type in the percent in the ZOOM toolbar:
3. Turn on REFLOW by pressing CTRL + 4 or from the VIEW menu, select REFLOW.

What to look for:
1. Does the reading order make sense in the magnified environment (does it mimic the original document’s expected reading order)
2. If the document had columns, are the columns reading in the correct order?
3. If the document was a flyer or brochure, does it mimic the original document’s expected reading order?

NOTE: Reflow does not work on document with interactive elements (fillable forms for example). As well, some bugs have been reported when using reflow with documents that have been created in Office 2007 and converted to PDF.

Screenshot

Screen shot of Using Reflow to check reading order

Step 2: Using the Order Panel to check reading order

Procedure

When the Order Panel is opened, it highlights the reading order of the document based upon the tagging structure.

If no tagging structure is present, the document will attempt to create the reading order starting at the top left and moving to the right as it moves down the page.

1. Open document (this test was done with Acrobat Pro 9)
2. Open the ORDER Panel by selecting VIEW from the top menu, then selecting NAVIGATION PANELS, then selecting ORDER.

What to look for:
1. When the Order Panel was opened, blocked areas of the document became highlighted with numerals associated with each block. These numbers are the reading order. If no numbered blocks appear, the document is most likly not tagged.
2. Do the ordered blocks make logical reading sense? Do they mimic the original document’s expected reading order?

Screenshot

Screen shot of Using the Order Panel to check reading order

Step 3: Using Read Out Loud to check reading order

Procedure

A way to check reading order is to listen how it is read out loud. Acrobat Pro includes a feature called Read Out Loud that will read the document.

1. Open document (this test was done with Acrobat Pro 9)
2. Activate the Read Out Loud feature by selecting VIEW from the top menu, then selecting READ OUT LOUD, then selecting ACTIVATE READ OUT LOUD. (Shortcut key to activate – SHIFT + CTRL + Y)
3. Select the READ THIS PAGE ONLY option from the same menu (Shortcut key to read page – SHIFT + CTRL + V)

What to listen for:
Read Out Loud will follow the reading order that is set up in the document. Is it reading in a different order than original document’s expected reading order?

NOTE: You can control the volume, speed, and pitch of the reading voice in the Preferences menu located under the EDIT menu. Select the READING option from the Catagories list.

Step 4: Save as .TXT file to check reading order

Procedure

Saving the PDF as at Text file will linearize the text in the document based upon the reading order set up in the document.

1. Open document (this test was done with Acrobat Pro 9)
2. Under the FILE menu item select SAVE AS
3. Name the document then under Save as type, select Text (accessible) or Text (plain).
4. Save the document

What to look for:
Open the text document. Is it reading in a different order than original document’s expected reading order?

Rules Evaluated with this Technique

Rules evaluated with Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0
Test
Type
Description
Manual

The order of text must make sense when linearized