Add alternative text to an image in Microsoft Word

Overview

Individuals who cannot see images in Microsoft Word documents rely on the author to provide alternative text to describe the content of an image. The alternative text used should describe important aspects of the image, but be brief enough to not overburden the user. When a screen reader encounters an image in a Word document, the alternative text will be read out to the user, helping them understand what's going on in the image.

Note:
If you're using images in a decorative context and they don't offer any informative content (for example, a colored separator bar image used between paragraphs of content), alternative text is not required.

Add alternative text to an image

To add alternative text to an image in Word:

  1. Insert the picture you want to use into the document.
  2. Right-click the picture, and then, in the menu that pops up, click Format Picture.
  3. In the "Format Picture" pane, click Layout Properties button.
  4. Click the arrow next to Alt Text to expand the alternative text options.
  5. In the "Description" field, enter a description of the image.

    If you have a detailed image that requires a long description, you may want to enter a brief summary of the description in the "Title" field. This allows users to decide if they need the full description of the image or not. Otherwise, you can leave the "Title" field blank.

  6. When finished, close the "Format Picture" pane.
Note:
In the Office 365 version of Word, you can also add alternative text for images by right-clicking the image and clicking Edit Alt Text. Keep in mind that this option doesn't provide a title field; for detailed images that may need a title, follow the steps above to add alternative text and a title.

For more about creating alternative text for images, see General guidelines for creating accessible documents.