I'm going through existing InDesign documents that have tables within a rounded rectangle to give the table rounded corners. While doing an accessibility audit, the rectangle is getting flagged as an object that should be marked as an artifact. However, when marking the rectangle as an artifact, it seems to also mark the table within it as an artifact. Is there a way to only make the parent object an artifact while keeping the child content accessible?

1 Answer 1


When you mark the items in Indesign for tagging the table and its text frame cannot be accessed separately. Generating a PDF generates nothing of a plain text frame which has no stroke nor fill color. Only the text or table inside it cause XML objects to be generated. If the text frame has a stroke or fill color they imply 2 more paths to the PDF (stroke and fill as two separate items).

This is my untagged one page PDF. It contains only what Indesign made from one 2x2 table. The text frame had blue stroke, rounded corners and yellow fill:

enter image description here

The Content tab in Acrobat shows the structure page by page. You see 14 paths and one group of one letter text boxes. The first path (bottom item in the layering order) is the yellow fill. The last path (top item in the layering order) is the blue stroke. The rest 12 paths are the black line segments in the table.

If I tagged this PDF manually the tag tree would be this:

enter image description here

It's PDF/UA compliant except one item is missing: the document has no main header.

The tag tree is a crutch. It's an extra structure made for machine readers (Acrobat's read aloud is not a proper one). The lowest level tag tree items become containers to the PDF Content tree:

enter image description here

I have put every path to the Artifact container. For some reason the PDF/UA spec has no tag for an artifact in the tag tree. Artifacts occur only in the Content tree.

I guess your table frame paths are untagged items, they hang still as separate in the content tree like here:

enter image description here

They can be selected in the Content tree and defined to become artifacts:

enter image description here

The first path is right clicked in the Content tree. Select option Layout Artifact, OK. After making both table frame paths artifacts the Content tree is this:

enter image description here

This should be PDF/UA compliant (except the missing document header)

Unfortunately fixing a badly tagged PDF made by Indesign is far from this easy. Indesign uses all kinds of actually unnecessary grouping tags, often multi-level or even non-standard (= role mapped) ones in the tag tree like Span, Story, Section etc... which makes reading the tag tree a pain and making fixes a nightmare.

In addition Indesign makes numerous formal tagging errors. I bet you will learn something if you take a "no accessibility errors found by Adobe" PDF which is tagged in Indesign and inspect it with something less blind inspector program like PAC 2021 (freeware).

My customers have gradually built some PDF accessibility awareness and do not pay a single penny if the PDF is tagged by Indesign. They have learned to want "Absolutely zero red and yellow errors in PAC and its screen reader simulator must show everything as a perfectly ordered linear single column list". That's harmful because manual tagging in a PDF editor cannot be started before I have an email which confirms the layout and content are OK, any further changes can be billed separately. Everything was much easier when customers accepted the Adobe style accessibility (= a miniature subset of PDF/UA compliance and WGAC accessibility requirements).

If you want to get a fast result "tagged in Indesign" and "no accessibility errors found by Acrobat" you can duplicate the problematic frame in Indesign. Change the other frame to an ordinary invisible text frame with no stroke, no color fill nor corner decorations. Make the decorative frame empty (no text, no table, only the stroke and fill).

  • That was an incredible answer, thank you so much!
    – cchapman
    Oct 2, 2023 at 13:30

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