- Video overview of how to apply alternate text to images in Microsoft Word
- Text overview of how to apply alternate text in Microsoft Word
Alternative text descriptions of images (Alt text) helps users understand the picture’s significance (or lack of.)
This content is typically only accessed with assistive technology. In some cases, if you hover your mouse over an image, it will provide the alternate text as a pop up.
Provide descriptions around the image in the source document for optimal results but remember that not everyone might be able to access the alternate text.
Video overview of how to apply alternate text to images in Microsoft Word
The context is everything for images in your document. If the image adds important information to the learning experience, it should be described. If an image does not add any value, you may consider marking it as decorative. Lets review some samples:
Sample 1 image
This image was found on the website which is trying to attract visitors. It needs detailed alternate text.
Sample 1 image description
A forest with giant sequoias, the largest trees in the world, is a feast for the senses. The giant sequoias’ red/orange bark is distinct among the grey and brown bark of other trees. And if you stand beneath one of these giants, you can gaze all the way up its tall trunk and through its high branches to see sky above. The treetop is often hidden above the highest branches. If you are quiet and listen, you may hear a breeze rustling the foliage of smaller trees – the sugar pines, white and red firs, or incense-cedar. Or perhaps you’ll hear a woodpecker calling and tapping against a tree, seeking insects. If you have time to take a walk, you may see a giant sequoia along the trail – try to press your fingers against its spongy, thick bark.
Sample 2 Icon
This image is an icon and in my opinion does not offer any additional value to the content provided, so I would mark it as decorative.
Giant sequoias grow at middle elevations along the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. While not the world’s oldest trees, they are known to reach ages of up to 3,400 years. Tree ring studies of giant sequoias provide a long record of climate and fire history, helping park managers and scientists better understand relationships of climate, fire, and the giant sequoia life cycle.
Sample 3 Pie Chart
This pie chart provides important information to the user. Because it is an image containing text, we need to provide all of the data in the description of the image.
Sample 3 Alternate text
The National Park Service Wilderness by category is as follows:
- Non-Wilderness. 340 Units. 14+ million Acres
- Eligible. 21 Units. 17+ mill Acres
- Proposed. 14 Units. 3+ million acres
- Recommended. 17 Units. 5+ million acres
- Designated. 50 Units. 44+ million acres
Additional things to consider when writing alternate text
- Context is everything
- Decorative images should be marked as decorative
- Pie charts and other graphs will need all data described
- Focus on the emphasis of the image
- Avoid using “image of” in description
- Be sure to check that the image does not just have the file name in the alternate text area. For example: jordison.png might be the default value in the alt text area for an image – be sure to spot check all images to ensure that the file name did not get inserted.
- Keep alternate text less than 100 characters. If there is more text needed – be sure to include it next to the image on the page.
Text overview of how to apply alternate text in Microsoft Word
- Right click the image
- Select Edit Alt text
- Enter a description or mark as decorative