How to use Alt Text correctly

Do you know how to use Alt Text correctly, or even why it exists?

What is Alt Text for?

framed pictures and potted plants displayed on shelves and on a white wall
Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

To know how to use something correctly, you need to know what it is for. There are two main jobs for Alt Text:

1. To assist the visually impaired

The best Alt Text will improve accessibility for the visually impaired. The information in the Alt Text box can be used by the screen reader application to describe the images on the screen to a visually impaired person.

2. To provide a description if the image does not load

Nobody likes to look at a blank screen and wonder what should be there. It is slightly less frustrating then to read the Alt Text while you are waiting.

What to write as Alt Text

The description is only going to be as good as the information that has been input. Therefore, we bloggers have a responsibility to make sure that the information we use in our blogs is accurate. It is so important that we know how to use Alt Text correctly in order to provide the best experience for all users of our web pages.

The bonus of Alt Text is that it helps search engines index the image. This absolutely does not mean that you should fill it with keywords though.

The description should simply contain enough information to form the picture in our minds.

Match your image to your keywords

As an example, say you have written a post about going apple picking, and you have found the following image on Unsplash:

Think how you would describe the picture to someone who can’t see it.

Perhaps, good Alt Text may go something like this:
A woman picking an apple from a tree

However, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Something better could be:
A woman wearing a checked scarf picking a red apple from a tree

If you need to amend the Alt Text on your WordPress blog, you can change it via the media library. Or, when you are editing a blog post, the Alt Text box can be found on the right in the image block settings.

Related post:

Finally, Instagram

When you upload a photo to Instagram you can now add Alt Text. Look out for the advanced settings. Remember to keep it simple and relevant.

a screenshot of Instagram showing where to write alt text

I know some bloggers think that you should just stuff the Alt Text field with lots of key words or phrases, or just not bother at all – but think how frustrating that is to someone with impaired vision. Therefore, I hope that you have found this post useful and that you will have fun turning your blog pictures into words.

Thanks for reading!

Marie-Celine Blog Signature

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10 Responses

  1. Nyxie says:

    This is so helpful – I didn’t even know this was really a thing!
    Thank you!
    I will have to get my images up to scratch!

    – Nyxie

  2. Chloe Chats says:

    I didn’t know you could do alt text on Instagram! That’s pretty good!

    Chloe xx

  3. Michelle says:

    I had no idea you could apply alt text to Instagram! Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  4. Rinki Tiwari says:

    I didn’t know that it is used to assist visually impaired person. Although I have been consistent with putting alt text on my blog images but I used to stuff it with keywords… would never do again.
    Thank you so much Marie 😊

  5. Abby says:

    This was a super helpful post, Marie! I need to get better about using alt text. I tend to overthink it. But you’ve laid it out nice and simple. Thanks!

    • Marie-Celine says:

      Thanks Abby. I’ve been very bad at doing this in the past but I want to get better at it.

  6. Geraldine says:

    I didn’t know you could now apply it to Instagram, that’s pretty cool! I’ve been inconsistent when it comes to applying alt text to my images haha, I ought to do better with it! Thanks for sharing Marie 🥰

    • Marie-Celine says:

      I need to improve my descriptions! They don’t make it very obvious on IG but at least it’s there now.

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