We have an application that includes a text editor. As you know, it is a good practice on the web to let the user also navigate with the tab key (WCAG 2.1.1, 2.1.2).

My question is that if you need to move between paragraph, section and point in the editor, and due to the use of MS Word, users are used to doing this ind the editor with the Tab key.

How could I solve the situation where you can move outside the editor (fields, buttons, etc.) with Tab key and inside the text editor you format the text in the same way (with the tab key).

Should these actions be with a different key combination or is it OK that you can do both actions with the Tab key

The attached picture shows a small part of the system to illustrate my question.

The attached picture shows a small part of the system to illustrate my question

1 Answer 1


Having both use purely the tab key means someone who wants or needs to navigate the page using the tab key will get "trapped" once they enter the editor without an option to exit or go back using the same approach.

An alternative solution, which I've seen some interfaces with this problem use, is to prefix the problematic keys with some modifier key like Ctrl or Alt when used within editors. The issue here is that modifier combinations with Tab are often used globally by either the browser (Ctrl + Tab for switching browser tabs) or OS (Alt/Cmd + Tab for switching windows on Windows/macOS respectively).

If "capturing" the Tab key inside the text editor is absolutely out of the question from an accessibility or convenience point of view, you could think about making the text editor modal, only enabling editing by clicking some button / hitting some key and then capturing the Tab key until the user exits "edit mode" by confirming their edits with some other action. Note however that this seems quite uncommon and may pose its own hurdles for usability...

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