How to include Alt Text with images in Word 2011


How to include Alt Text with images in Word 2011
Saturday, 31 March 2012

Guest author Rachel McAlpine of Contented.com explains how to add alt text for images if you’re writing a document with Word 2011 for Mac. It’s a boost to accessibility and is something any professional writer should know.

Miraz says: Computers have changed how visually impaired people read documents: they can enlarge the text or have their computer read the text aloud. But one big stumbling block remains, and that’s images. If the reader can’t see the screen then images such as photos, graphs, logos, and even clip art go ‘missing’. And like taking the speech and soundtrack out of a movie, that can mean they miss out on a lot of important information. Luckily, you can fix that by including alternate text, or alt text, to replace the images.

Rachel McAlpine of Contented.com. Rachel McAlpine of Contented.com: I make short, exciting online courses for content authors. Topic: Accessible content. Benefits: affordable training, enjoyment, and WCAG 2.0 compliance. See also the Contented course: Using images and graphs in web content.

Finally, with Word 2011 for Mac, we can enter alt-text for images, thus increasing their accessibility. This has not been possible with previous versions of Word for Mac, which has been a big disadvantage. Here’s what you need to do to to add alt text to images.

  1. In a Word document, insert an image, preferably by starting from Insert on the Word menu.
  2. Select the photo or other picture file, and Insert. No problem, nothing new here.
  3. Now select the image in the Word document, and from the Word menu, choose Format > Picture.
  4. In the new menu that appears, choose Alt text.
  5. Write your alt-text in the Title field and check OK. (Yes, some irrational labels persist.)
  6. Use the Description field only if the image conveys complex information — for example with graphs, charts and infographics. In such cases, write a description of the image and the information it conveys.
Insert a picture.

Insert a picture.

Select the picture and go to the Format menu.

Select the picture and go to the Format menu.

Write your alt-text in the Title field.

Write your alt-text in the Title field.

So there you have it! You can also find your way to the Format Picture window by other paths, for example by Control clicking on a picture.

Miraz adds: How do you know what to write for alt-text and long descriptions in documents? Well, the rules are the same as for images in web content. You’ll find a clear explanation and excellent examples in the 1-hour course from Contented.com: Using images and graphs in web content. Cost: USD $50 (or USD $239 for a 10-course diploma). Also see the WebAIM article Appropriate Use of Alternative Text.

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