Automatic Alt Text for Images in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word Tips

Did you know that every time you add an image to your Word document, it automatically generates “Alt Text?” Do you know what Alt Text refers to? Alternative Text or Alternative Descriptions are written copy that describes the image. This text also helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers. It will appear in place of an image in case it doesn’t load, it also allows search engines to better rank your website.

I was prepping a data sheet for one of our add-on solutions and came across this new feature in Microsoft Word while viewing the PDF I had just created. When I hovered over the image in the PDF, this light-yellow box appeared that said “A screenshot of a computer.” I thought, what’s this, why is it here? I went back to my Word document and found that Microsoft Word automatically generates generic text for images placed in a document.

What a great idea for a “How To” blog I thought.

Alt Text in Microsoft Word

So, how does Alt Text work and how do I change it?

First, either open a new document or use the current one. Go to the Insert tab, on the menu Ribbon, and click Insert > Pictures.  Locate and select the picture you would like added to your document.

When you first import a picture or image, Alt Text is already generated for that image. If you click on the black bar at the bottom, the Alt Text dialog box will open to the right of your screen.

Alt Text in Microsoft Word

Note: You need to have the image selected in order to add Alt Text to the image. In my image below, it is grayed out because I didn’t have an image selected taking this screen shot.

Alt Text in Microsoft Word

Once your image is selected, you can go ahead and type in your image description in the white box. I typed in for Alt Text: Farmland. If you don’t know what to describe the picture as, you can click the “Generate a description for me” button below the text box. Or, you can simply mark the image as decorative, which will be shown to readers as simply a decorative image.

Alt Text in Microsoft Word

How to Disable Automatic Alt Text

If you prefer to shut this feature off, go to the Microsoft Word Options in the File Tab on the Menu Ribbon, click Ease of Access tab in left hand column and then deselect Automatically generate alt text for me. This would shut this feature off so you won’t have to worry about adding Alt Text in your images.

Alt Text in Microsoft Word

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