Short Description Text (for Authors)

Add short description text (alt text) to a book in Word.


A Message to Authors

Alt text (alternative text) is used to describe a figure/image for a reader with low vision. The alt text will be read aloud to a reader who is using accessibility settings on a device.

In order for a book to be considered accessible and fully compliant, it must include alt text for all images; this will be strictly required for any book to be distributed in Europe beginning in 2025, per the European Accessibility Act.

Best practices discourage simply repeating the caption, as the alt text should be in addition to the caption, providing a description of the pertinent visual aspect(s) to assist those who cannot see the image. If the purpose of the image is mostly just to convey a general impression in support of the text, the description can be kept quite simple.

When writing short descriptions or reviewing alt text created by Scribe, follow these guidelines:

  • The length should be 150 characters or fewer (including spaces).
  • Describe what’s going on in the image (i.e., whether it’s a chart or photograph, whether movement is taking place, etc.).
  • If there’s a figure title or caption, try not to repeat the same information in the alt text.

For further information and examples, Scribe recommends Alternative Text for Images from the University of Michigan, which also includes a link to the WebAIM website that provides some “Bad Alt Text” examples.

See also Scribe’s Short Description page, with additional details and recommendations for writing alt text.

Alt text will be presented in this format in Word files:

{~?~IM: insert [figure file name] here. ALT: [alt text].}

As you write or review the alt text for your publication, use these guidelines to confirm that the salient aspects of each image have been described appropriately.