Alternative Text in Documents


To add alternative text to images, right-click on the image, and select Edit Alt Text.

Add alt text


This will open another panel on the right side to add alt text to explain the image. It may be helpful when writing alternative text to close your eyes and write down what you were able to see. One tip, do not include the word “photo of….” as this is not necessary for screen readers to help understand the content. If the image is for decorative purposes only, you can check Mark as a decorative image option.

Edit alt text


For tables, you can add the table summary in the alt text. To add the alt text,

  1. Right-click anywhere on the table and click on the Table Properties option.

    Table properties option
  2. Click on the Alt Text tab to add or edit the alt text.
    Table alt text

Charts and Graphs

Ideally for the graphs, you should display the data table below. That way the screen reader users can access the data related to graphs. If that is not possible, you can add alt text. Make sure you include all the relevant information in the alt text. Adding the alt text to the chart/graph is the same procedure as adding the alt text to images. Make sure you have the chart/graph selected, not the contents in it. Once you have the chart/graph selected, right-click on it and select Edit Alt text. It may be helpful when writing alt text for charts and graphs to boil down the idea to the bare essentials — what is this graph used to illustrate? What is the gist of what you are trying to get across by using this chart? Visit the accessible content page to learn more about writing proper alternative text.

Chart alt text

Shapes, Icons, SmartArt, and 3D Models

Adding alt text to shapes, icons, SmartArt, and 3D models is the same as adding alt text to the images. Select and right-click the object, click on Edit Alt Text to add the alt text.

Shape alt text

Group Objects

If your document includes multiple shapes, 3D models, or flow charts, it is important to add the alt text, so the information is accessible to the screen readers. To do so, you can use the feature called Group if all the objects convey the same meaning. Below is the step-by-step process to group images and add alt text:

  1. Select all the images on your page that you want to group. You can do this by clicking and dragging your mouse pointer, or you can click on one image and hold down CTRL/COMMAND + to click to select other images.

    Objects before grouping
  2. Once you have all the images selected, go to Drawing Tools > Format > Group.

    Group objects
  3. When you click on Group, Word will group all the images into one.

    Objects after grouping
  4. Now you can right-click the grouped image and click on Edit Alt Text to add the alt text.
  5. If you need to make changes in the grouped image, you can go to Format > Group > Ungroup to ungroup the images.