Office 4 VC

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Reading row and column titles in Excel using JAWS

As you begin working with data spanning over several columns and rows in Excel, you will realise that it becomes increasingly difficult to track or remember the column and row title of the cell you are reading. Sighted users can easily lookup the title visually, but a JAWS user has to move the focus to the title cell to read it. This results in some inconvenience and a reduction in productivity. Fortunately, there is a solution for this problem.

There are a couple of different ways to make JAWS read the column and/ or row titles. However, before we start discussing these ways, download the training file for this chapter: Chap 4. Cities and population.xlsx.

The training file contains 4  sheets with population statistics of several cities across India. Go ahead and open the file. The focus will be in cell A1 of worksheet named “20 most populated cities”. In this worksheet, the cities have been listed in column B from B4 to B24, and the years are listed in row 3, from C3 to M3. The state of the cities in column B is listed in column N from N4 to N24. Go ahead and move around the sheet to get a feel of the data presented.

Image of worksheet named

Training file – Worksheet: 20 most populated cities

Basic method

Having spent some time in the worksheet, you would now realise why is it convenient to have the column and row titles announced to you. In order for JAWS to announce the column and row titles, you will have to first specify which column and rows contain the title.

To define which column contains titles of various rows, move to the column containing the row titles and press “INSERT+CTRL+ALT+R”. If you wish to specify which row contains the titles for various columns, move to the row containing the column titles and press “INSERT+CTRL+ALT+C”.

Let’s try this in our training file. But wait, before you go on to specify the column and/ or row containing the titles, you will have to first verify one small JAWS setting.  While in the training file, press INSERT + V. This will open the JAWS Quick Setting – Excel dialog box. Type “define” in the edit box and go down to “Define Name Column and Row Title Override” and press F6. Select the option “On for the current file”, and press ESCAPE to close the dialog box.

Image of JAWS Quick Setting - Excel dialog box with the define name column and row title override option highlighted

JAWS Quick Setting – Excel dialog box

Now, we would like cities listed in column B to serve as the row titles in this worksheet. To specify this to JAWS, go anywhere in column B and press “INSERT+CTRL+ALT+R”. Similarly, to specify that row 3 contains column titles, simply go anywhere in row 3 and press “INSERT+CTRL+ALT+C”. Try moving around the worksheet. If you have done everything correctly, JAWS will announce the column and row titles to you.

Limitations of basic method

When one defines the column and row titles using the basic method, the entire column and/ or row specified by a user gets designated as the title column or row. This results in some inconvenience if a worksheet contains more than one data table. To overcome this limitation, we can use Excel’s naming function.

Specifying title regions using Excel’s naming function

Before we learn how to specify title regions using the naming function, we will have to make a few changes in JAWS settings. Press INSERT + V to open JAWS Quick Settings – Excel dialog box. Type “define” in the edit menu and move down till you reach “Define Name Column and Row Titles Override” and press F6. Verify that Define Name Column and Row Titles Override option is off. If it is not off, change it to off and press ESCAPE to close the dialog box.

Image of the JAWS Quick Setting - Excel dialog box with the Define Name Column and row Title Override option highlighted

JAWS Quick Setting – Excel dialog box

Note. If you are defining column and/ row title using the basic method, you will have to turn Define Name Column and Row Title Override option. Further, remember that you can’t use the basic and Excel’s naming function methods together.

To specify title regions using Excel’s naming function, follow the steps listed below:

  1. Move to the first cell in the column or row containing the titles. If the spreadsheet contains both row and column titles, move to the cell where these two intersect.
  2. Go to the FORMULAS TAB > DEFINE NAMES SUBMENU > NAME MANAGER BUTTON and press ENTER. The Name Manager dialog box opens. Now, choose NEW. The New Name dialog box opens with focus in the Name edit field.
  3. If the column contains row titles, type “RowTitle”. If the row contains column titles, type “ColumnTitle”. If the cell is an intersection of both row and column titles, type “Title”. Note, the words, “RowTitle”, “ColumnTitle” and “Title” are case sensitive and should be typed exactly as given here.
  4. Without leaving a space, type the region number, for example Region1. Don’t worry, this will be more clear when we take an example.
  5. Without leaving any space, type a period after the region number
  6. Without leaving any space, type the cell address of the top left corner cell of the region for which you are specifying the title. Hint, this will be the same cell in which you had moved to in step 1 above.
  7. Without leaving a space, type a period.
  8. Without leaving any space, type the cell address of the bottom right corner cell of the region for which you are specifying the titles.
  9. Without leaving a space, type a period.
  10. Lastly, without leaving any space, type the worksheet number in which you currently are. You can find the worksheet number by pressing INSERT + F1.
  11. After you press ENTER, the focus will return to the Name Manager dialog box. You will notice that the dialog box now displays the name you just defined.
  12. Press ESCAPE to close the dialog box

Sounds Complicated? Let’s try specifying the titles with the help of an example. First, go to the training file and move to worksheet named “Population stats-top 50 cities”. Hint, you can move between worksheets by pressing CTRL + PAGE up and CTRL + PAGE DOWN. This worksheet has 3 data regions as described below.

Image of the Worksheet named

Training file – Worksheet: Population stats-top 50 cities

Region 1 description

The first data region presents population statistics for top 50 cities, and spans across cell B6, in top left corner, to F56, in bottom right corner. Cell B4 contains the caption for this region. Column B contains the names of various cities listed from B7 to B56. The city names serve as the row title. Row 6 contains column titles spanning across cell B6 to F6.

Region 2 description

The second region summarises the data given in first region by states/ territories. This region spans across Cell J6, in the top left corner, to O25, in bottom right corner. Cell J4 contains the caption for this region. Column J contains the names of states/ territories from J7 to J25. Row 6 contains column titles spanning across J6 to O6.

Region 3 description

The third and the last region presents the growth rate across different states based on the 50 cities listed in first region. This region spans across J32, in the top left corner, to M51, in the bottom right corner. Cell J30 contains the caption for this region. Column J contains the name of the cities from J33 to J51, and row 32 contains the column titles from J32 to M32.

Specifying row titles with Excel’s naming function

Let’s try specifying the row titles for the first region.

Step 1. Go to cell B6. Hint, you can go to cell B6 by pressing CTRL + G, typing “B6” and hitting ENTER.

Step 2. Now go to FORMULAS TAB > DEFINE NAMES SUBMENU > NAME MANAGER & press ENTER. The Name Manager dialog box will open. Now, choose New. The New Name dialog box will open with focus in the Name edit field.

Image of the Formula Manager button & the Formula Manager dialog box highlighted in red and black respectively

Formula Manager button & Formula Manager dialog box

Step 3. Type “RowTitleRegion1.B6.F56.2” and press ENTER. Don’t worry, we will discuss this name in detail in a few minutes.

Image of the New name dialog box

New name dialog box

Step 4. The focus is back in the Name Manager dialog box. Press ESCAPE to close the dialog box.

That’s it, you just specified the row titles for the first region. Now, let’s spend some time in understanding the name we just gave in Step 3 above.

First, we typed “RowTitle” to indicate that we wish to define, well, row titles.

Then we typed “Region1.”. This is to indicate that the titles  are defined for the first region. Here the digit 1 is meant to indicate a distinct region. There is no hard and fast rule on how to name a region. However, you must use numbers and 2 different regions can’t have the same number.

We then typed “B6.F56.”. This specifies the boundaries of Region1. You would remember from our description of the first region above that, the region spans across B6, in top left corner, to F56, in bottom right corner.

Lastly, we typed “2”. This indicates the worksheet number. You can find this worksheet number by pressing INSERT + F1.

Specifying column titles with Excel’s naming function

Now let’s try specifying the column titles for the second region.

 

Step 1. Go to cell J6. Hint, you can go to cell J6 by pressing CTRL + G, typing “J6” and hitting ENTER.

Step 2. Now go to FORMULAS TAB > DEFINE NAMES SUBMENU > NAME MANAGER & press ENTER. The Name Manager dialog box will open. Now, choose New. The New Name dialog box will open with focus in the Name edit field.

Step 3. Type “ColumnTitleRegion2.J6.O25.2” and press ENTER. Don’t worry, we will discuss this name in detail in a few minutes.

Step 4. The focus is back in the Name Manager dialog box. Press ESCAPE to close the dialog box.

That’s it, you just specified the column titles for the second region. Now, just as we did for row titles, let’s spend some time in understanding the name we just gave in Step 3 above.

First, we typed “ColumnTitle” to indicate that we wish to define, yes you guessed it, column titles.

Then we typed “Region2.”. This is to indicate that the titles  are defined for the second region. Here the digit 2 is meant to indicate a distinct region. There is no hard and fast rule on how to name a region. However, as you would remember, you must use numbers, and further, 2 different regions can’t have the same number.

We then typed “J6.O25.”. This specifies the boundaries of Region2. You would remember from our description of the second region above that, the region spans across J6, in top left corner, to O25, in bottom right corner.

Lastly, we typed “2”. This indicates the worksheet number. As you already know, you can find this worksheet number by pressing INSERT + F1.

 

Specifying column and row titles with Excel’s naming function

Now let’s try specifying both the column and row titles for the third region.

Step 1. Go to cell J32. Hint, you can go to cell J32 by pressing CTRL + G, typing “J32” and hitting ENTER.

Step 2. Now go to FORMULAS TAB > DEFINE NAMES SUBMENU > NAME MANAGER & press ENTER. The Name Manager dialog box will open. Now, choose New. The New Name dialog box will open with focus in the Name edit field.

Step 3. Type “TitleRegion3.J32.M51.2” and press ENTER. Don’t worry, we will discuss this name in detail in a few minutes.

Step 4. The focus is back in the Name Manager dialog box. Press ESCAPE to close the dialog box.

That’s it, you just specified both the column and row titles for the third region. Now, just as we did for row titles and column titles, let’s spend some time in understanding the name we just gave in Step 3 above.

First, we typed “Title” to indicate that we wish to define both column and row titles.

Then we typed “Region3.”. This is to indicate that the column and row titles  are defined for the third region. Here the digit 3 is meant to indicate a distinct region. Remember, there is no hard and fast rule on how to name a region; except that they should be unique and should be numbers.

We then typed “J32.M51.”. This specifies the boundaries of Region3. You would remember from our description of the third region above that, the region spans across J32, in top left corner, to M51, in bottom right corner.

Lastly, we typed “2”. This indicates the worksheet number. As you already know, you can find this worksheet number by pressing INSERT + F1.

Advantages of specifying titles with Excel’s naming function

You can specify different title regions for different regions in one worksheet

Titles specified by one JAWS user are automatically available to other JAWS users making it easy to collaborate.

Titles can be specified even by a non-JAWS user thereby improving accessibility

Conclusion

There are 2 more worksheets in the training file. The third sheet, named “Population master stats” contains one data region spanning across B3, in top left corner, to N202, in bottom right corner. This region includes population statistics for 198 cities. We have already specified the column and row titles for this region using Excel’s naming functions.

The last worksheet, named “naming details”, lists down different parameters which can be used to specify column and/ or row titles for each of the regions across the 4 worksheets in this file.

To conclude, specifying column and row titles is one of the powerful features of JAWS. We strongly advise you to use this feature generously. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and we will answer them for you.

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