Alternate Text

Definition of Alternate Text

Alternate text, often shortened to alt text, is a descriptive text attribute added to an HTML tag for images or other media elements. It improves web accessibility for visually impaired users by providing a textual representation of the image or media when it cannot be seen or properly rendered. Additionally, alt text helps search engines understand and index the content of the image, which can improve SEO.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Alternate Text” can be represented as: /ˈɔl·tər·nət tɛkst/In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols:- /ˈɔl/ as in ‘all’- /tər/ as in ‘stir’- /nət/ as in ‘nut’- /tɛkst/ as in ‘text’

Key Takeaways

  1. Alternate text, also known as “alt text” or “alt attribute”, is a short description added to images in HTML, which helps provide context and improves accessibility for visually impaired users or in scenarios where images fail to load.
  2. Alt text should be concise, meaningful, and accurately describe the content of the image. It should not contain unnecessary details, such as “Image of” or “Picture of”, as screen readers already announce the presence of an image.
  3. Using alt text not only improves the overall accessibility of web content but also benefits Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by providing search engines with relevant information about the image, helping index the content accordingly.

Importance of Alternate Text

Alternate text, often referred to as “alt text” or “alt tags,” is essential because it provides a textual alternative to non-text media elements, like images, on the internet.

By accurately describing the purpose or content of these elements, alt text improves web accessibility for users with different abilities or disabilities, such as those using screen readers or individuals with visual impairments.

Additionally, alt text plays a vital role in enhancing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as it provides better image context and descriptions for search engine crawlers, helping them index the images accurately and thus improving the content’s search engine ranking.

Overall, incorporating alt text in web content is crucial for promoting inclusion, providing a more gratifying user experience and optimal search engine performance.


Alternate text, commonly known as alt text, serves an essential purpose in the world of technology, particularly when it comes to web accessibility and user experience. The primary objective of alt text is to provide a concise and accurate description of images and graphical elements within websites or applications, ensuring that users relying on screen readers or those with visual impairments can effectively understand and navigate the content.

By offering a text-based alternative to visuals, alt text bridges the gap between users who consume content visually and those who interact with it via auditory or tactile means, thus promoting inclusive and equitable experiences for all users. In addition to its role in web accessibility, alt text plays a crucial part in search engine optimization (SEO). As search engines typically cannot directly interpret the content within images, alt text becomes vital in making images discoverable and contextually relevant within search results.

By crafting clear, descriptive, and keyword-conscious alt text, content creators and website administrators can significantly enhance their chances of ranking higher in organic search results. In this way, alt text not only facilitates a more accessible web experience but also contributes to the overall visibility and success of online content – simplifying both human- and machine-based consumption.

Examples of Alternate Text

Social Media Accessibility: Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have implemented alternate text features to improve their accessibility for users with visual impairments. Users can manually add alternate text to their images or rely on automated captions generated by the platform’s AI. This allows screen readers to read out the descriptions, making it easier for visually impaired people to understand and engage with the content on their timelines.

Accessible Websites: Many websites use alternate text (also known as alt text or alt tags) for images, graphics, and other visual content to enhance user experience for visually impaired users. For example, educational websites and news sites often utilize alternate text to provide descriptions of images and graphs, enabling screen readers to convey the information to users who cannot see it.

E-commerce and Online Retail: Online shopping websites, such as Amazon and eBay, use alternate text for product images to improve accessibility and user experience for visually impaired customers. The alternate text descriptions not only detail product appearance but also provide essential information regarding features, size, and color. It enables people relying on screen readers to understand the product details and make informed purchasing decisions.

Alternate Text FAQ

What is alternate text?

Alternate text, also known as “alt text” or “alt attribute”, is a written description of an image used within an HTML document. It helps provide context and information to search engines and users with visual impairments using screen readers.

Why is alternate text important?

Alternate text is important for several reasons, including accessibility, search engine optimization (SEO), and providing context for users who cannot view images. It helps screen readers interpret the content of images for visually impaired users and provides search engines with relevant information about the image to improve its search rankings.

How to add alternate text to an image?

To add alternate text to an image, use the “alt” attribute within the HTML <img> tag. For example: <img src="image.jpg" alt="A description of the image" />. The value of the “alt” attribute should be a descriptive, concise, and accurate representation of the image’s content.

What should be included in alternate text?

Alternate text should provide a clear and concise description of the image, focusing on its primary purpose or function. In general, it should include relevant details such as object names, colors, and any text visible in the image. Avoid using phrases like “image of” or “picture of” as they do not add value to the description.

Any best practices for writing alternate text?

Here are some best practices for writing alternate text:

  1. Keep it concise and relevant to the image content
  2. Provide context for users who cannot view the image
  3. Avoid using phrases like “picture of” or “image of”
  4. Include descriptive information such as object names, colors, and visible text
  5. Ensure that each image on the page has a unique and accurate description

Related Technology Terms

  • Accessibility
  • Screen Readers
  • Image Descriptions
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Sources for More Information


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