Accessibility Tip of the Week: Adding Alt Text in Microsoft Office and Google Docs

Blank canvas hung on wall

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about adding alternative text in Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

A screen reader operates by synthesizing text into speech. When it encounters an image, it requires a description of the image to read to the user. This description is called alternative text.

Effective alternative text describes both the content and the function of an image, ensuring the meaning of the image is conveyed to all users. A good way to approach writing alternative text is to consider what information would be left out if the image was missing.

Microsoft Office

Newer versions of Microsoft Office allow alt text to be added by right-clicking an image and selecting “Alt Text.” Both a Title and a Description field will be available – filling in just the Description field is sufficient as most screen readers ignore the Title field.

To add alternative text in an older version of Microsoft Office:
Microsoft Word Format Picture Menu. The Size and Properties tab is selected, and the Alt Text option is expanded. The Description field is highlighted.

  1. Right-click the image and select Format Picture.
  2. Select the Size and Properties icon.
  3. Expand the Alt Text option.
  4. Enter alternative text into the Description field.

Google Docs

Google Docs screenshot. The Alt Text menu is displayed and the Description field is highlighted.

  1. Right-click the image and select Alt Text.
  2. Enter alternative text into the Description field.

Including alternative text is essential to creating accessible content. Guides on including alternative text in your other content may be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

If you have questions about alternative text, or other aspects of accessibility, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105), the district’s website accessibility specialist.