The following tips will help you make your documents more accessible to others.

Image Alternative Text

Images are often used to convey information, illustrate ideas, and further comprehension. However, computer programs rely on author-generated descriptions of these images, known as Alternative or alt text to provide this information to people unable to view the images.

If an image is used to describe an idea or increases comprehension, alternative text is needed. If the image only beautifies a document, it should be marked as “decorative” so computer programs do not describe the image.

Where do you put alternative text?

  • Author guidelines require alternative text (or decorative tag designations) for each Image in your manuscript and support materials.
  • Alternative text should be included in image descriptions. In Microsoft Office, right-click on the image and select “Edit Alt Text …” to add text or include a decorative tag designation. See the video below for more guidance.


Tips for Effective Alternative Text:

  • Provide a specific and precise description of your image.
  • Describe your image in a sentence or two (under 125 characters).
  • Do not use the phrase “image of…” to describe the image.
  • Do not add alternative text to decorative images.

Make a Table Accessible

Tables should only be used to display information. They should never be used for page layout purposes.

Keep tables simple. Use multiple tables to present complex information. Design tables so that each row has the same number of columns and that each column has the same number of rows.

Each table needs a table header row that describes what information the table depicts.

In Microsoft Word, enable table accessibility when you create the table.

The following video provides guidance for building accessible tables using Microsoft Word:


Microsoft Accessibility Checker

Microsoft Office has an accessibility checker to help authors make accessible documents. The video below provides guidance about how to use this feature in Microsoft Word.