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All Definitions

Alt Text

Short Definition

A description of an image used by screen readers and displayed if the image fails to load.


Alt Text, short for alternative text, is an attribute added to image elements in HTML.

It provides a textual description of the image, which is displayed if the image fails to load and is used by screen readers to describe the image to visually impaired users.

Alt Text improves accessibility and enhances SEO by providing context to search engines about the content of the image.

When should you use Alt Text?

You should use Alt Text when:

  • Including images on your website to ensure they are accessible to visually impaired users.
  • Enhancing the SEO of your website by providing search engines with context about the images.
  • Ensuring that if images fail to load, users can still understand the content and purpose of the images.
  • Creating content that adheres to web accessibility standards and best practices.

How should you use Alt Text?

To use Alt Text, add the alt attribute to the <img> tag in your HTML and provide a concise, descriptive text for the image. The text should convey the purpose and content of the image clearly.


<img src="logo.png" alt="Company Logo">
<img src="team.jpg" alt="Team members collaborating during a meeting">
<img src="product.jpg" alt="Smartphone with a 6.5-inch display and dual cameras">

What is a real-world example of Alt Text in action?

A real-world example of Alt Text in action is an e-commerce website using Alt Text for product images. By providing descriptive Alt Text for each product image, such as "Red leather handbag with adjustable strap," the website ensures that users with visual impairments can understand what each product is and search engines can index the images accurately, improving the site's visibility in search results.

What are some precautions to take when working with Alt Text?

When working with Alt Text, consider the following precautions:

  1. Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Do not overuse keywords in Alt Text; it should be descriptive and natural.
  2. Keep It Concise: Alt Text should be concise and to the point, typically no longer than a few words or a short sentence.
  3. Relevant Descriptions: Ensure that the Alt Text is relevant to the image and provides an accurate description.
  4. Unique Alt Text: Use unique Alt Text for each image to avoid duplication and enhance clarity for screen readers and search engines.

What are the advantages of using Alt Text?

  • Improved Accessibility: Ensures that visually impaired users can understand and interact with images on your website.
  • Enhanced SEO: Provides search engines with context about images, improving the site's search visibility.
  • Better User Experience: Helps users understand the content and purpose of images if they fail to load.
  • Compliance with Standards: Meets web accessibility standards and best practices, making your site more inclusive.

What are the limitations of using Alt Text?

  • Limited Length: Alt Text should be concise, which can be challenging for complex images.
  • Misuse: Incorrect or irrelevant Alt Text can confuse users and negatively impact SEO.
  • Not a Substitute for Other Accessibility Features: Alt Text is essential but should be used in conjunction with other accessibility features, such as proper HTML structure and ARIA attributes.

What are common mistakes to avoid with Alt Text?

  • Leaving Alt Text Empty: Omitting Alt Text for images, which can exclude visually impaired users from understanding the content.
  • Using "Image of": Starting Alt Text with "Image of" or "Picture of" is redundant and unnecessary.
  • Overloading Keywords: Adding too many keywords in an attempt to boost SEO can make Alt Text less useful and result in keyword stuffing penalties.
  • Ignoring Decorative Images: For purely decorative images, use an empty Alt Text (alt="") to indicate that the image is not relevant to the content.

How does Alt Text compare to similar technologies or methods?

  • Alt Text vs. Title Attribute: The title attribute provides additional information about an element and is displayed as a tooltip, but it is not a substitute for Alt Text in terms of accessibility.
  • Alt Text vs. ARIA Labels: ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) labels are used to enhance accessibility for dynamic content and interactive elements. Alt Text is specifically for images.
  • Alt Text vs. Captions: Captions are visible text accompanying images, providing context for all users. Alt Text is not visible and is specifically for accessibility and SEO purposes.

What are best practices for Alt Text?

  • Be Descriptive and Specific: Provide a clear and specific description of the image that conveys its purpose and content.
  • Avoid Redundancy: Do not repeat information that is already conveyed in surrounding text.
  • Consider Context: Tailor the Alt Text to the context in which the image is used.
  • Use for All Relevant Images: Ensure all informative images have appropriate Alt Text, while purely decorative images have empty Alt Text.

What resources are available for learning more about Alt Text?

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Guidelines and best practices for web accessibility, including Alt Text.
  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): Resources and tutorials on web accessibility.
  • MDN Web Docs: Comprehensive documentation on HTML elements, including the img tag and Alt Text.
  • WebAIM: Articles and tutorials on creating accessible web content, including proper use of Alt Text.
  • "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug: A book on web usability that covers best practices for accessibility, including Alt Text.

By understanding and applying these aspects of Alt Text, you can create more accessible, user-friendly, and SEO-optimized web content.

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