Checking and Changing the Reading Order in PowerPoint

By default, the PowerPoint Slides assume that you are adding information to the slide in the correct order. If you add a graphic or text box after the fact, or rearrange the items on the slide, it does not recognize the visual order – only the chronological one. This can create confusion if someone is using a screen reader and the items are read out of logical order.

Use the selection pane to check and reorder the items on a slide to make sure that they make sense to someone who cannot see the slide.

  1. Select the Home tab across the top of the screen
  2. In the Drawing Box, select Arrange – this will open a menu
  3. Choose Selection Pane – his will open a pane to the left of the slide* (You can also use Shortcut Keys (Alt) + (F10) to open the selection pane.)
  4. Selecting an item in the left pane will highlight it on the slide
  5. The order the items will be read are from the bottom of the list up. So, arrange the items in the list with the first thing to be read at the bottom and work up.
  6. Use the arrow to move the items into the correct order.

Pro Tip

You can test the order by using the (Tab Key). Each tab will highlight the next item in the order it will be read.

Steps 1-3

Screenshot of PowerPoint slide showing home tab, arrange toggle and the selection pane in the drop-down menu.

Steps 4-6


Screenshot showing open order pane with item selected, the top to bottom order, and the arrows to change reading order.

Faculty Resource Center

Accessibility Resources Accessible Layout Check and Change Reading Order in PowerPoint