Post date: 
Friday, 12 June 2015

Modifying learning materials takes skill and a knowledge of how it will be used. But with practice a straightforward literary text can be downloaded and changed into the required font size in just 90 seconds. Read on to find out how.

Structured Word documents like those on RNIB Bookshare (formerly known as Load2Learn) help your learners navigate their way through the text. They also enable teaching assistants and learning resource staff in schools to create other accessible formats such as PDF, audio, braille and eBook files using easy to learn shortcuts. It’s the structure provided within them that makes modifying these files a much simpler task. Importantly these documents can be easily used with access technology.

Modifying fonts, colour and spacing  In a structured Word document you can quickly and easily modify font colour, font type, font size, background colour, line spacing and paragraphs. It can take as little as 90 seconds to download a structured Word textbook file from Load2Learn and change it to the required font size (30 seconds for short reading scheme books). The tips in this article are for Microsoft Office Word 2003, 2007 and 2010.

Selecting text

To select all the text in a document press Ctrl A.

To select part of the text place the cursor at start of the text, left click and drag mouse to highlight the area of text you wish to change. Keyboard users can use the shift and arrows.

Font size

Using this method automatically scales up headings in line with the body text. Formatting, such as page breaks, will automatically adjust appropriately, so headings remain larger and more prominent than the main body of the text. First select all the text using Ctrl A.


Increase size two points at a timeShift Ctrl > 
Decrease size two points at a timeShift Ctrl < 
Increase size one point at a timeCtrl ] 
Decrease size one point at a timeCtrl [ 

Font style

You can also change the font style of a whole document without affecting the heading levels and other formatting. Select all the text and then select the font style from the drop down list in the font box.

Font colour

Likewise you can change the font colour of a whole document or for particular sections to make it easier to navigate Select the text you wish to change, and then select the font colour from the drop down list in the font box.

Background colour

It can be useful to change the background colour of a whole document or for particular sections. Some learners find light text reversed out of a dark background easier to read, or it can be useful for short bits of text such as dialogue to indicate who is talking.

For Word 2007 and 2010 choose the page layout tab. Go to the page background box and select a colour from the page colour drop down menu.

Line spacing

Many readers with a vision impairment appreciate a larger than usual line spacing for ease of reading. Alternatively where the line spacing chosen by a publisher makes a document unnecessarily long and bulky for the student to carry around, you can decrease the line spacing to something more manageable.

To increase or decrease the line spacing in Word 2007 and 2010. Go to the paragraph box on the home tab and select the required spacing from the line spacing drop down menu.

For Word 2003 select Paragraph from the Format menu. Then select the spacing you want from the Indents and spacing tab.


If the file contains pictures and images, you may need to enlarge these separately, modify, remove or replace them with alternative accessible resources.

Time savers

If you are regularly formatting electronic documents for learners you may wish to learn to use the keyboard shortcuts, which can save a lot of time and mouse fatigue!

Go to RNIB Bookshare to find a guide to these useful shortcuts, how to create your own structured documents and other ways to get the most out of Load2Learn materials.



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