Writing Good Alt Text

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Images in posts take an article and make it more inviting and engaging. But for those who rely on screen readers, these images don’t exist without a well-crafted alt text. Alt text, short for alternative text, is a simple yet powerful tool that opens up the visual web to all users. Let’s explore how to create alt text that increases your post’s accessibility.

  1. Be Brief, Be Clear: Alt text is the bridge between sight and sound. Keep it short and descriptive. Remember, less is often more. Alt text isn’t for editorializing, use it to give enough information to give context to the image’s existence and nothing more.
  2. Know the Image’s Role: Consider whether the image is essential or decorative. If it doesn’t carry crucial information, it’s okay to use an empty alt text (alt=” “). However, if it’s integral, give it a worthy description. When in doubt, take the time to write alt text.
  3. Context is Key: Think about where the image sits on the page. Why are you placing this image here for sighted users? That information needs to be included with the alt text.
  4. Ditch Redundancy: No need to say “image of” or “picture of.” Screen readers already announce the presence of an image.
  5. Text in Images: For images with text, make sure the text is available elsewhere in the post. If the text is in the body of the post already, you don’t need to include it in the alt text. However, you can use the alt text to include that information without adding the text to the body of your post.
  6. Image Use: If the image serves as a link or button, let the alt text reflect its purpose. Generally, this falls under the same rules as Text in Images. If there is text in the image, it should usually be reflected in the alt text.

Alt text is necessary for inclusivity on the web. Follow these simple rules to ensure that everyone can enjoy a richer online experience regardless of their visual abilities. We are responsible to the general public to ensure our content is accessible to everyone.

Examples of Alt text use

Two men in a field.

Photo by Marc Hall

Alt text with no context

A field with plants.

Alt text on an article about local crops

Men inspecting a field of peanuts.

Alt text on an article about research

Men examine rows of peanuts at the Upper Coastal Plain research station.

Read more at Why Alt Text for an Image Is Important