Everything we know about alt-texts, when to use them, and how to craft them. For a helpful decision tree on how and when to write alt-text, check out the W3C’s alt-text decision tree.
How to write alt-textSection titled How to write alt-text
An alt-text is a description of an image that’s shown to people who can’t see the image. Alt-texts help people with little or no vision who use assistive technologies, people who have turned off images, and search engines.
Describe the image conciselySection titled Describe the image concisely
It might sound obvious, but an alt-text should describe the image in case an image doesn’t display or someone has trouble seeing it. The goal of alt-text is to give the necessary information from the image at a glance. It’s best to include only the necessary information.
|“People using computers.”||“Man and woman using laptops at a standing table, Illustration.”|
|“Man in a purple shirt and woman in blue pants are typing on laptops and there’s a plant on the floor nearby.”|
|“Man and woman using computers, illustrated by Jane Doe © 2019.”|
Take context into account. For instance, if the image above is part of a blog post about standing tables, then it’s safer to skip the part about standing tables.
Don’t say it’s an imageSection titled Don’t say it’s an image
Don’t start alt-texts with things like “Image of” or “Photo of.”. Screen readers add that by default. If it’s a special type of image (like an icon), you can note that at the end.
|“Image of a rocket.”||“A rocket.”|
|“Illustration of a rocket.”|
|Photo of a rocket.”|
|“Icon of a rocket.”||“A rocket, icon.”|
End with a periodSection titled End with a period
End the alt-text with a period. This makes screen readers pause a bit after the last word in the alt-text, creating a natural pause before the next bit of text.
When not to write alt-textSection titled When not to write alt-text
In most cases you should use an alt-text for images, but there are some exceptions where you should leave the alt-text blank.
Decorative imagesSection titled Decorative images
If an image does not convey any meaning to the user, leave the alt-text blank.
<img src="rocket.svg" alt="">
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The rocket here doesn’t add meaningful information.
Images accompanied by textSection titled Images accompanied by text
If an image has a label nearby, leave the alt-text blank.
<img src="leaderboard.svg" alt="">
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The nearby text here already explains what the graphic illustrates. If there was alt-text here, screen readers would repeat information to the user.
alt="") will cause a screenreader to skip over the image. Never remove the alt-attribute. When a screenreader comes to an image without an alt attribute, it will dictate the filename (Eg. “SO underscore logo dot png”).
How to add alt-textSection titled How to add alt-text
Using <img>Section titled Using <img>
<img> tag, add the alt-text inside the
<img src="image.png" alt="The alt text.">
<img src="image.svg" alt="The alt text.">
Using inline SVGSection titled Using inline SVG
Inline SVG doesn’t support the
alt attribute, so instead add two wai-aria attributes:
<svg role="img" aria-label="the alt-text" viewBox="…">…</svg>