Add alternative text to a picture, shape, chart, table, or SmartArt graphic

Adding alternative text (also known as alt text or Alt Text) requires several steps and a little patience. The key to adding alt text in most cases is getting to the Size and Position tab (Layout and Properties in Word and Outlook) in the Format <Picture, Shape, other object> pane.

Because the steps vary slightly depending on which app you’re using, this article will help you navigate through the maze. First pick what you want to add alt text to, and look for the app you’re using.

Add alt text to a. . .


Chart

  1. Right-click the chart and click Format Chart Area.
  2. Click Size and Properties and click Alt Text.

Size and Property tab on the Format Chart Area pane

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

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Picture

For Excel, PowerPoint, and Project

  1. Right-click the picture and click Format Picture.
  2. Click Size and Properties and click Alt Text.

Size and Property tab in the Format Picture pane showing where to enter alt text

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of picture. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

For Outlook and Word

  1. Right-click the picture and click Format Picture.
  2. Click Layout and Properties and click Alt Text.

Layout and Property tab in the Format Pictrue pane showing where to enter alt text

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

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SmartArt

For Excel and PowerPoint

  1. Right-click the SmartArt graphic, click Size and Properties, and then click Alt Text.

Size and Property tab in the Format Shape pane showing Alt Text boxes

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

For Outlook and Word

  1. Right-click the SmartArt graphic and click Format Object.
  2. Click Layout and Properties and click Alt Text.

Layout and Property tab in the Format Shape pane showing Alt Text boxes

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

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Shape

For Excel, PowerPoint, and Project

  1. Right-click the shape, click Size and Properties, and then click Alt Text.

Size and Property tab in the Format Shape pane showing Alt Text boxes

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people don’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

For Outlook and Word

  1. Right-click the shape and click Format Shape.
  2. Click Layout and Properties and click Alt Text.

Layout and Property tab in the Format Shape pane showing Alt Text boxes

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

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Table

For Excel

  1. Right-click the table, click Table, and then click Alternative Text.
  2. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  3. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

For PowerPoint

  1. Right-click the shape and click Format Shape.
  2. Click Size and Properties and click Alt Text.

Size and Property tab in the Format Shape pane showing Alt Text boxes

  1. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  2. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

For Outlook and Word

  1. Right-click the table, click Table Properties, and then click Alternative Text.
  2. Click the Alt Text tab.
  3. In the Description box, enter an explanation of chart. This box should always be filled in.
  4. If you want, enter a brief summary in the Title box. This box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. By using the Title box, people won’t need to read the full description unless they want to.

More about alt text

Alternative text helps people with screen readers understand the content of pictures. When you use a screen reader to view your document, or save it to a file format such as HTML or DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System), alternative text appears in most browsers when the picture doesn’t display.

When writing alt text, it’s a good idea to start with the general and then get more specific. For example, possible alt text for this picture could be:

Partial view of a gingerbread house decorated with candy

“Gingerbread house with a roof decorated with candy”. “Or gingerbread house with red candy trim and a tree outside”. It sometimes helps to imagine describing the picture to someone who has their eyes closed. What would you say? That’s your alt text.

And if you’re adding alt text to a chart or table, you’ll probably want to describe what the chart or table is showing. For example, “chart showing quarterly sales with a dip in Quarter 3”.

 Tip    If you frequently add alternative text to shapes, pictures, charts, tables, SmartArt graphics, or other objects, you can add the Alt Text command to the Quick Access Toolbar to create a shortcut to it. For instructions on how to do this, see Add commands to Quick Access Toolbar.

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Applies to:
Excel 2013, Outlook 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Project Professional 2013, Project Standard 2013, Word 2013