Creating Accessible Images in MS Word

What is Alt Text?

Alt text is an alternative (non-visual) way to describe the meaning of an image.

Why should you use Alt Text?

Alt text is read by screen readers allowing the content and function of the image to be accessible to those with visual or cognitive disabilities. It also helps students using slow computers or browsers that do not support display of the images since the alt text appears in place of the image.

When should you use Alt Text?

Alt text should be used when the meaning of a graphic is not adequately described in the body of the text or a caption provided before or after the image. If you provide an explicit explanation of the content and function of the image in the text or in a caption, then that image does not need alt text.

What information should you include in an Alt Text Statement?

Alt text is designed to convey the meaning of a photo and should be succinct. Therefore, there can be multiple ways to write alt text for a single image. It depends on what you want to convey to others by using the image.For example, the alt text for the following image of a dog can be portrayed in several ways depending on how and where the photo will be used:image of dog wearing Elizabethan collar

  • For a veterinary class, the alt text might be: “A dog with an Elizabethan collar to prevent the irritation of wounds.”
  • For a photography class, the alt text might be: “A bird’s eye view photo of a dog.”
  • For a Color Theory class the text may read: “A photo of a dog with a red leash against pale red bricks.”
  • For a dog breeding class the text may read: “A photo of a rat terrier.”

Tips for Using Graphics

  • Include meaningful alternative text (alt text) or a caption that describes the context and the function of the image.
  • Use images only to enhance the understandability of the content (e.g., illustrate procedures, concepts, and processes).
  • Avoid using images that are purely decorative or distract from the main content.
  • Limit the size and number of graphics used while maintaining visual integrity.

To add an image in Word 2010 (Windows)

  1. Click on the Insert tab.
  2. Select Picture.
  3. Locate and select the image on your computer.
  4. Click the Insert button.
  5. Right click on the image.
  6. Select Format Picture.
  7. Select the Alt Text tab.
  8. Type a name or description of the image in the Alternative text box.

alt

To add an image in Word 2011 (Mac)

  1. Click on Home on the menu bar.
  2. Select Picture, then Picture from File…images-1
  3. Locate and select the image on your computer.
  4. Click the Insert button.
  5. Since alt text is not available in Word 2011, provide a caption above the image (e.g., Image below of Instructor Mr. Smith).