How to Write Amazing Alt Text [Your Guide]

There’s been a lot of buzz around alternative text, or “alt text,” recently. You’ve heard about alt text but you’re not quite sure what it is or where it’s used. In addition, many people don’t understand the importance of alt text or how to write it correctly. We want to give you the tools you need to write amazing alt text.

Person’s arms and fingers typing on a laptop to add alt text to an image in an office warehouse and tea mug
Person’s arms and fingers typing on a laptop to add alt text to an image in an office warehouse and tea mug

What is alt text?

Needless to say, including alt text in your business strategy is important for your customers who rely on assistive technology. It allows them to connect with your organization’s information. But, how do you add meaningful alt text to your website, electronic documents, and social media efforts so everyone is included? Let’s take a look.

Writing amazing alt text

  • Does the image contribute to the content around it or is it purely decorative?
  • How does the image relate to the content around it?
  • Is it a stand-alone social media image?

Good news! If it’s purely decorative — like a border or shape used to make the page more aesthetically pleasing — and doesn’t contribute to the content in any way, you can skip it.

Next, you want to condense the idea of the image into a concise statement with as few words as possible. You don’t want to leave information out of your description but it’s important to be as precise as possible while giving the end-user a good understanding of what’s on the screen.

While creating your concise statement, consider the following:

  • Jump right into describing the image and exclude “picture of” or “image of” in your description. Those words aren’t necessary in the world of alt text.
  • There’s typically no need to include color or shapes in your description. It doesn’t convey any important information to the reader.
  • Make sure to include any text from the image in your description. For example, infographics and memes often have text that accompanies the image and should be included.

When you think you’ve written the best alt text you can, read the text out loud without looking at the image. Does it make sense when you hear it? If so, you’re probably good to move on to the next image.

Remember, the goal of writing alt text is to provide the same information that a visual user would get.

How to add alt text

Still at a loss as to where you can add your alt text? Hop over to your favorite search engine and ask the internet. Someone out there will probably know.

Doesn’t social media add alt text for me?

American flag on a wooden pole waving in a lightly clouded sky with the words “Veterans Day Honoring all who served” and logo
American flag on a wooden pole waving in a lightly clouded sky with the words “Veterans Day Honoring all who served” and logo

We went into the image options and gave it better alt text: American flag on a wooden pole waving in a lightly clouded sky with the words “Veterans Day Honoring all who served” and the Braille Works logo.

Taking this extra step with your pictures makes sure your friends and followers with visual impairments aren’t left out.

Am I doing this right?

This post was written by Jessica Sanders.

Originally published at https://brailleworks.com on January 16, 2020.

Providing ADA compliant materials for your customers. Braille, Large Print, Audio & Accessible PDF Services. https://brailleworks.com/

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