Text mark-up guidelines for Save as DAISY

Original Author(s): Prashant Ranjan Verma

Using the Save as DAISY add-in remains one of the fastest ways to create a DAISY book or DTBook XML file from a text document.

Preparation for using Save as DAISY add-in requires proper mark up of the document using appropriate formatting styles. There are numerous rules that need to be followed while applying the styles to different text elements such as headings, footnotes, page numbers, tables, images etc.

The guidelines given below apply both to the Open Office Writer and Microsoft Word 2007 and higher. Note that Save As DAISY add-in is available for both these popular word processors. Adherence to these guidelines will provide you with a document that will easily pass the Save as DAISY validation and will be a great source document for conversion to various other alternative formats like Braille or just for direct reading with assistive technologies like a screen reader.

Using styles

“A style is a set of formatting characteristics applied to paragraphs, tables, characters, or lists. In a document, styles are used to quickly and consistently change the appearance of the content."

In Microsoft Word Save as DAISY provides a number of DAISY specific styles which need to be used in addition to the styles provided by the Word processor.

Make sure the DAISY styles are imported when you start working on a document. In Microsoft Word click Accessibility in the ribbon and then click on Import button.

To learn more about the Accessibility ribbon in Microsoft Word see Using the Microsoft Word Accessibility Ribbon

Opening the styles panel

You will need to frequently access the styles panel when marking the document. In Microsoft Word 2007 and later to open the Styles list in the Home ribbon click the arrow below the Change Styles button. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + S to bring up the Styles dialog.

In Open Office Writer either click on the Styles and Formatting button in the toolbar or just press F11.


The section and sub-section names should be formatted using the heading styles. This is the most important part of making the document accessible and navigable.

For formatting text as headings, place the insertion pointer on the line where heading text is written (it is not necessary to select the text) and then click FORMAT>STYLES and then choose the appropriate Heading Level.

Keyboard shortcuts are available for Heading level 1, 2 & 3 only.

use the appropriate shortcut:

  • ALT + CTRL + 1 for HEADING 1
  • ALT + CTRL + 2 for HEADING 2
  • ALT + CTRL + 3 for HEADING 3

In Microsoft Word Heading Level 1 through 9 styles is available but Daisy books support Heading Level only up to level 6. Most books will however have headings only 3 to 4 level deep.

Also note that:

  • A heading should not have any line break in between. This will result in two headings of the same level without any text in between. This mark-up is invalid. For example, if the document has the following:

    Chapter 1

    Basics of Programming

    If the same heading style is applied to both the lines above, there will be two headings of the same level since the section name is broken up into two paragraphs. Manually bring the heading name in one paragraph and then apply the heading style. The correct format will be as follows:

    Chapter 1 Basics of Programming

  • Heading levels must be used sequentially. For example H1, H2, H3 is valid but H1, H3 is invalid
  • Begin with a H1 at the very start of the document

Page numbers

In Microsoft Word Save as DAISY provides two options for page numbering.

  1. Automatic: The pagination of the Word document is carried forward to the translated DAISY and XML file.
  2. Custom: Page markers can be inserted at any place in the document using Page Number (DAISY) style.

The custom page numbering is especially useful when the document has a print source. You can type page numbers in the word document as they appear in the print source and apply the Page number DAISY style to it.

For the purpose of improving accessibility, if sentences are breaking across pages, in Microsoft word you should insert the page marker after the end of the sentence. Do not put page numbers in table cells even if the table spans across several pages.

Retain the page numbering as it is in the print book. If the book contains page numbering of the type I, ii, iii…. Or A, B, C,…. Or A1, A2 etc. retain them in your MS Word file.

Before translating the document, make sure you choose the page numbering you have applied in Save as DAISY settings. In the Accessibility ribbon click Settings and choose either Custom or Automatic.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Text such as C.R.Y. UN, WHO are liable to be pronounced wrongly by the Text to speech engines. These can be marked as abbreviations or acronym using the save as DAISY tools. Select the text and in the Accessibility ribbon click on Mark as Abbreviation or mark as Acronym as the case may be.

Header & Footer

Headers and footers should be removed before translation with Save as DAISY. If the document has been created by scanning a print book, the header and footer text may now be in the main content. All such instances should be deleted since they will be unnecessary repetitions.

Bulleted list

The bulleted list should be prepared using the MS word bullets and numbering feature. Built-in styles should be used to create the unordered lists.

Numbered lists

The list with numbering should be generated using the auto number feature of the MS word. Custom numbering should be avoided.


Table should be created using the default tools in Microsoft Word. The data should be inserted properly in cells.

Also note:

  • Tabular data represented using TABS or spaces should be converted to proper tables.
  • Do not include heading styles inside tables
  • When table layout is irrelevant or purely visual convert it to normal text or lists.

Footnotes and Endnotes:

Footnotes and endnotes should be inserted as prescribed by the word processing software. The footnote text gets automatically linked to the footnote text when proper method is used.

To insert a footnote in MS word, click where the footnote reference is required and then in the References ribbon click on Footnote. Now type or paste the footnote text in the footnote pane.


If columns are being used to emulate a table then the column breaks should be removed and text should be formatted using a table or tab stops. Running text formatted as columns should be converted to a single column.


Alternate text has to be provided to all images.

Points to be noted:

  • Insert images properly in the document, do not copy and paste them.
  • Place the images "in line" with the text.
  • Complex images like flow charts may require longer description in addition to the short alt text.
  • If it is a decorative image then the alt text should be very short e.g. “image"
  • If the image is sufficiently described in the surrounding text then also the alt text should be kept short.

To add the image description in Microsoft Word go to the IMAGE PROPERTIES>WEB TAB. Type description such as “logo of DAISY Consortium" for an image of DAISY Consortium logo.

If a longer description is required for the image you may type it below the image and apply the "Prodnote (DAISY)" style to it.

In Open Office Right click on the image and choose Picture. Choose Options tab and enter text in Alternative field


Hyperlinks should be removed from the whole document. The URL text without the links can be retained

Table of contents

If the Microsoft Word document has an auto generated Table of Contents, then make use of the Bodymatter DAISY style. See the article Treatment of Table of Contents, Front matter, Body matter & Rear Matter in Save as DAISY

Text boxes

The text inside the textbox should be retained without the border. This text should be placed at an appropriate location in the reading order. The textbox should not be inserted as a picture. The words “Textbox starts" and textbox ends" may be inserted at the start and end of the textbox contents.

Side bars

The sidebar text should be placed at an appropriate location in the reading order. The words “Sidebar starts" and Sidebar ends" may be inserted at the start and end of the textbox contents.


The captions if available should be placed immediately after the image and immediately before the tables. The “Image-caption (DAISY)" and the “Table-caption (DAISY)" styles should be applied respectively.

Water mark

Water mark should be removed from the document. If the water mark is essential then insert it as text in the beginning or just after the beginning of the document e.g. CONFIDENTIAL.

Line and paragraph spacing

Use single line spacing and remove double or more carriage returns between paragraphs. There should be only one carriage return (paragraph mark) between paragraphs. If necessary use the “Space before" and “Space after" property to add white space between paragraphs or before headings.

Document properties

It is important to set the document title and other properties. In Microsoft Word click File and then click Info. Now type out the title, author and other available information.

File names

Do not use spaces anywhere, not even in the image files to be inserted in the word document. Use only English alphabets & numerals in the file name. This precaution proves very helpful when the document is put through different tools for conversion.

Clear all formatting

If you are starting with a document where lot of text has been copied from different sources or where text has been obtained by scanning print pages, then it is highly recommended to first clear all the formatting of the document. The document may be having inconsistent formatting of sections, tables, lists etc. which may be a cause of concern during validation at a later stage. Also note that much of the page layout and formatting is anyway not carried forward by Save As DAISY so there is no harm in clearing all the formatting in the very beginning. Make sure that you either have the print source or a backup of the file so that you can check the original formatting when required. To clear all formatting in Microsoft Word select complete text of the document (CTRL + A) and then select Clear All in the styles list.

Validate periodically

If you are working on a long document then it is advisable to validate the document after you complete mark-up of a part of the document. This will help in locating mark-up errors if reported by the validator. After correcting the errors you can continue mark-up of the document and validate again after completing more sections/pages.

See also

DAISYpedia Categories: 

This page was last edited by VLuceno on Sunday, August 21, 2016 19:01
Text is available under the terms of the DAISY Consortium Intellectual Property Policy, Licensing, and Working Group Process.