Attachments (PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Zip, others)

This page describes for web editors in the School of Pharmacy how to upload attachments in a website built by the Office of Communications.

On this page

Avoid uploading attachments

Before uploading attachments, be aware that you are obligated by University policy and federal and state law to make information in your website accessible to persons with disabilities. Usually, attachments in the file types described here are hard or impossible to make accessible, often requiring many additional, time-consuming, and painstaking steps.

  • If a Word or PDF attachment has only text, tables, and images, or

  • If an Excel attachment has only spreadsheets and charts…

then it can be migrated to a web page that doesn’t require someone to use Microsoft Word or Excel or a PDF viewer to view it.

Instead of attaching a CV (curriculum vitae)

Update the faculty member’s profile page at UCSF Profiles, then link to that page. (Rationale: CVs uploaded as attachments are commonly uploaded then forgotten, meaning that this info becomes more out-of-date the more time that passes.)

What’s wrong with PDF files?

  1. Not screen-friendly: They’re usually painful to read on a phone because the text does not reflow to match the size of your device. (Try it yourself!)
  2. Not font-resizeable: You can zoom to increase the font size, but the text will not reflow, forcing you to tediously pan.
  3. Not link-friendly: It’s not easy to link to a specific paragraph in a PDF file on the web.
  4. Slow to load: Compared to the HTML equivalent, especially on slower internet connections and when not optimized for online viewing.
  5. Hard for some visitors to access: If not created correctly, the text inside a PDF cannot be searched or indexed by a search engine or is not accessible to persons with disabilities. Or the text will not flow in the correct order for screen reader users.
  6. Hard to maintain: They’re more likely to contain info that is out of date because the authoring process requires the original document and authoring tool. Does more than one person have access to the original? It’s faster and easier to fix a typo or broken link on a web page than with a PDF on a web page.
  7. Hard to reuse: Ever copy all the text in a PDF then paste it elsewhere and get lots of line breaks you didn’t want?
  8. Hard to analyze usage: Web pages can give us useful info about how many times people are viewing them. Repeated offline views of a PDF cannot do this. (Or, you can do it by adding some scripting, but not without likely violating the privacy expectations of your readers.)
  9. They can live forever: Visitors might keep and refer to it for years or decades, which might not be what you intend. If you plan to update it later, include something like one of the following sentences:
    • After [date], check for a newer version of this document at [short url].

    • If this document is older than [time period, e.g. one month], check for a newer version at [short url].

Instead of attaching a journal article as a PDF file

Link to the live article on the web. This also enables you and UCSF to avoid potential liabilities regarding the unauthorized republication or redistribution of copyrighted material.

Instead of attaching a poster presentation as a PDF file

Build a new web page that contains all the same information, then link to that page. Notably, even if you were able to make the PDF accessible to screen readers, poster presentations in PDF are difficult or impossible to read on mobile devices or for persons with or without visual disabilities.

Instead of attaching an old newsletter as a PDF file

Build a new web page that contains all the same information, then link to that page.

Instead of attaching a Word or PDF form

Use an accessible web-based form. For example, Qualtrics has tools to check survey accessibility.

When is it okay to use a PDF or other attachment type?

This is not a complete list, but it gives you an idea of our intent:

  1. For documents people may likely want or need to print, such as:

    • an event flyer or poster for display in lobbies or on bulletin boards.
    • a map that you created for which no online equivalent such as Google Maps exists (in which case you could just link to that Google Map).
    • a complex diagram.
  2. For long or complex Word or Excel documents that would not easily fit on a web page or would be prohibitively costly to convert to HTML or structure into multiple pages of a website. In this case, use Microsoft’s accessibility tools included in Word and Excel to make them as accessible as possible.

When using any of these document attachment types, if it is not already accessible or cannot be made accessible, you must also include an accessible version. For example, you can insert an image of a PDF in the first tab in a multitab structure, then insert the accessible version in the second tab. See Org Chart: School of Pharmacy for an example.

What if I’m not sure?

For help avoiding uploading attachments or to ask about our policies, contact us at Website and Communications Support.

Upload an attachment

You can upload attachments such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and other files.

  1. Confirm that your attachment is accessible to persons with disabilities.

    Archive, icon, and plain text files do not require an accessibility check.

    For other kinds of files, use an accessibility checking tool to determine if your attachment is accessible to persons with disabilities. The methods and tools for this can change from time to time, so search Google for instructions. For example:

    1. Check if a PDF file is accessible or Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro). (If you have Acrobat Reader instead of Acrobat Pro, contact UCSF IT to determine how to obtain Acrobat Pro.)

    2. Check if a Microsoft Word document is accessible or Microsoft Word: Creating Accessible Documents.

    3. Check if a Microsoft Excel document is accessible or Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities.

    4. Check if a Microsoft PowerPoint document is accessible or PowerPoint Accessibility.

    5. Check if an OpenDocument document is accessible or Testing in OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

    Follow the instructions provided by the accessibility tool to resolve any issues that are encountered.

  2. Edit the page to which you want to add an attachment.

  3. Place your cursor on a new line where you want the attachment.

  4. paragraph format menu showing normal selected.

    Paragraph Format menu

    Use the Paragraph Format menu to set the paragraph format to Normal.

  5. button.

    Add Media button

    Select the Add Media button. A dialog appears asking you to upload a new file.

  6. Find and select the attachment on your device. The filename then appears in the upload field.

  7. Select the Next button. The attachment is uploaded, and an icon and the attachment filename appears with an Edit file / crop link and some local options.

  8. Select the Submit button, leaving the local options on default settings.

  9. The attachment should now appear in the location you specified.

  10. Follow our style guide for links to downloadable files.

  11. Contact us at Website and Communications Support if these steps did not give you your desired result.

Allowed file types

Filename extension


doc, docx

Microsoft Word

xls, xlsx

Microsoft Excel

pps, ppsx, ppt, pptx

Microsoft PowerPoint

pdf Adobe Portable Document Format
odp, ods, odt OpenDocument
gz, tgz, zip archives
ico icon
txt plain text