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Create accessible Word documents

Improve accessibility with alt text

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Learn how to add alt text to images and objects.

Alt text can be read by screen readers, and helps people who are blind or who have low vision understand what images and other objects are in a document. You can add alt text to objects, such as pictures, clip art, charts, tables, shapes, SmartArt, embedded objects, and audio or video objects.

To add alt text to an object

  1. To add alt text to a picture, shape, chart, or SmartArt graphic, do one of the following:

    • Right-click the object and select Edit Alt Text....

    • Select the object. Select Format > Alt Text.

    The Alt Text pane opens.

  2. Type a detailed description of the image to someone who cannot see the image, and describe why the image is important to your message.

Since assistive technology doesn’t read words within images, if there’s text within your image, include that text in the alt text description.

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Everything you need to know to write effective alt text

Since alt text can be read by screen readers, blind and low-vision users rely on it to fully understand your content.

You can add alt text to…


Clip art…




SmartArt graphics…

Embedded objects…

and even audio and video files.

To add alt text to a picture, shape, chart, or SmartArt graphic, right-click on the object and choose Format Picture.

In the Format Picture panel, choose the Layout and Properties icon.

Then choose Alt Text.

Add a title for your object, then a description. In this example, we want to explain that this image is a map, and describe what it shows.

Here are a few guidelines for writing alt text: Use alt text to convey the important content or function of the object.

Be succinct. Typically, a few words are all you need, though sometimes a short sentence or two might be appropriate.

And, since screen readers generally say what type of content the object is, you don’t need phrases like “image of”, “table of”, or “link to.”

But what if the image is just decorative, and there’s nothing important to say about it?

In that case, you can tell the screen reader to skip this image. For this image, we’ll open the alt text dialog, just as before. In the description, we’ll type in two double quotes, with no space between them. Now the screen reader will ignore this picture.

To add alt text to a table, right-click the table, choose Table Properties, and then select the Alt Text tab.

In the Description box, enter an explanation for the table. When you’re done, click OK.

And remember – if you think your audience needs more information than you can comfortably fit in the alt text, consider adding descriptive text to the document itself, either next to or below the object.

For more about creating accessible documents, visit

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