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Writing Good ALTernate Text for Web Pages

By David Katten, Web Accessibility Specialist, Web Services

All images on a webpage require a text equivalent or “alternate text”. But how?! How do you know if the alternate text on your page is good? Here are a few tips:

  • Keep it short. Long alt text can be more of a hindrance than a help. Be short, and only talk about the subject of the image
  • Decorative images should have empty alt text. If an image is decorative (like a list bullet or a graphic that divides sections), it needs empty alt text. But it still needs alt text!
  • Alt text is a replacement, not a description. When writing alt text, remember that it is supposed to be a textual replacement of an image, not a description. For instance, if the image is a link, the alt text should be what a text link would be.
  • Text in image = alt text. If there is text in the image, that text should be in the alt text.

For more information about web accessibility requirements contact the Web Accessibility Specialist at


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