Making a Word document accessible, doesn’t mean eliminating images. Illustrations, charts and pictures can add important information, or make concepts easier to understand. But if someone can’t see an image, whether due to a disability or due to a problem with technology, we still want to provide them with that information.
We do that by adding alternate text, sometimes called “alt text”. Alternate text replaces an image, so that if you can’t see it, you don’t miss out on the information it’s meant to convey. The text is read by a screen reader and should remain in place when the document is converted to PDF.
Alt text should be concise, descriptive and accurate. Also, keep in mind the importance of the graphic. The less important the image, the less detailed the alternate text needs to be.
Where do I add the Alternate Text?
Where you add the alternate text for a graphic, will depend on what version of Microsoft Word you are using, and whether you are using a PC or a Mac.
In Word 2013, on a PC:
- Right-click on the image and choose Format Picture
- Choose Layout and Properties
- Choose Alt Text
- Add the alternate text in the Description field. Leave the Title field blank.
Word 2010 / 2007
- To add alternate text to an image, begin by right clicking on the image itself.
- At the bottom of the context menu, select the format picture option.
- Next in the dialog box, select the alternate text tab.
- Add the alternate text in the Description field, not the Title field.
Word 2011 for Mac
- Right click (or control + click) on the image and select Format Picture.
- In the dialog box, select the Alt Text option from the list on the side.
- Enter the alternative text in the Description field, not the Title field.