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Preparation steps

This section describes a number of steps that should be executed right at the beginning – just make it a habit to ensure they have been applied for each document you are about to prepare for export to tagged PDF.

Preparation - Step 1: Assign standard tags to paragraph styles

Before organizing the content of our InDesign document into articles, a few preparatory steps need to be taken. One such step is that paragraph styles must be mapped to standard tags.

Paragraph Styles panel -> Flyput menu "Edit All Export Tags..."

Edit All Export Tags in the Paragraph Styles panel opens a dialog with a list of all paragraph styles.

Assign standard tags to paragraph styles

Assign a standard tag to each of the paragraph styles with the following exception
- Paragraph styles used to format lists should be set to [Automatic] - InDesign will then do the right thing when exporting the document to tagged PDF

All other paragraphs should be set to "P" for text paragraphs, or to H1, H2, etc. for headings, where H1 is the highest heading level, H2 the second heading level and so forth.

If there is a paragraph style for text that is to be considered an artefact – like the page numbering or a page header – use "Artifact" for that paragraph. Just in case you were wondering; in British English the spelling "artefact" is used, whereas in American English "artifact" is used.

Note: the screenshot shows list of export tags for export to PDF. As for export to EPUB and HTML also the character styles can be assigned to tags, a separate tags list is maintained under the "EPUB and HTML" radio button. If you plan to export your structured Indesign document also to EPUB or HTML, you may want to repeat the procedure described here to assign EPUB/HTML tags to your paragraph and character styles.

Tip: As you will quickly realize, it will make your work more efficient if you name your style sheets such that they indicate what the right standard tag is for them. So instead of having "Body text", you might use "Body text (P)". Once you have style sheets like "Important heading", assigning and controlling standard tags is much easier if the style were named "Important heading (H2)" (assuming it is intended to be a level 2 heading. Keep in mind that Indesign does not let you use names for style sheets that use [square brackets].

While you are at it - and especially if you also consider exporting to EPUB - you may want to do the same exercise for "EPUB and HTML" standard tags.

Preparation - Step 2: Activate "Use Reading Order in Tagged PDF"

Previous versions of InDesign offered (and InDesign CS 5.5 still does) a tagging feature based on XML. InDesign CS 5.5 in addition offers an "Articles" based tagging feature. In order for InDesign to make use of the Articles based tagging it is necessary to activate the option "Use Reading Order in Tagged PDF" in the Articles panel, as otherwise the Article based structuring will not have the intended effect in the exported tagged PDF.

Preparation step 3: Enter document title and other important metadata

In order to provide to the reader of a document something more useful than the file name of the document, it is important - especially to people with disabilities - to fill out the document title in the document's metadata.

In order to do so from within InDesign, simply go to File Info under the File menu to open the metadata dialog for the current InDesign document. Fill in the text field for "Document Title". In addition, while you are at it, you may also want to fill out some of the other core metadata fields. It not only makes it easier for readers to determine whether they are interested in the document, but will also support all kinds of content search, whether through Google or on a corporate intranet or a personal desktop computer.