Adjacent tagged items of the same type are often shown as a single body when using the Order panel or the Adjust Reading Order tool. I suppose Acrobat does this to avoid cluttering the screen with lots of boxes. The tags themselves do not actually merge. As long as items are tagged separately they remain separate. You can verify this in the Tags view by selecting a tag then down-arrowing to each subsequent tag in turn. As long as you have the tab order for each page set to "Use Document Structure", the order of the tags is what determines the reading order. Hope this helps.
a 'C' student
Hi C student
That's useful to know, but it's not quite what I was referring to. My issue is not that the <p> tags are merging, rather that the reading order boxes are merging. Normally, this isn't a worry except when applying a reading order to content that doesn't always flow heirachially in a linear way i.e. flow charts/diagrams.
In my case, the reading order boxes surrounding 2 totally separate text boxes (which need to remain separate to be meaningful) are merging. The tags do not merge, but the reading order boxes do. I've since redesigned my template to move the text areas apart, which seems to have stopped it, but it is frustrating to have to alter a design to compensate for a bug (unless I'm just doing something totally wrong).
Whereabouts was the 'Use Document Structure' option you are referring to? Is this an export option in Word, or is it present in Acrobat X Pro?
The other thing that perplexes me is the enormous line height around some text that you need to drag over in order to select some text. The image below is in Content view, but the selection areas seem to apply when trying to select text for the reading order. I'm guessing these invisible padding areas have something to do with the boxes merging:
Any idea what this is/how to avoid it?
Thanks again for your help, it is very much appreciated
“Use Document Structure” is a page property. I have not been able to find a way to set it when exporting from Word or even by default in Acrobat. I use the Page Thumbnails, select the first page then scroll down and shift-click the last page, so that all pages are selected. Right-click and select “Page Properties”, then “Use Document Structure” on the Tab Order tab. There are probably other ways to set it.
Please be assured that it is the order of the tags that determines reading order, even if things look funny when viewing the reading order boxes. Rearranging the reading order boxes works (or frequently does not work) by rearranging the tags. If you arrange the tags in the proper order yourself you can forget about the reading order boxes.
You might be interested in a free tool called the PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC) from the Swiss foundation Access for All (easy to find using Google). Along with a superior accessibility checker, it offers a useful Preview feature that shows the reading order and other information much better (in my opinion) than does Acrobat. It does not let you fix things though – you still have to use Acrobat for that.
I have no explanation for space around some text. I find it curious but I have gotten used to having to deal with it. To the best of my knowledge it causes no adverse side effects.
Hope this helps.
a 'C' student