Alternative text


Alternative text is a textual substitute for non-text content in web pages.

Web page authors must provide alternative text that represents the content and function of their images. According to WebAIM, alternative text can be presented in two ways:

  • Within the alt attribute of the <img> element
  • Within visible body text near the image, linked from either the image or a text link adjacent to the image


The attribute for alt text has been around since the beginning of HTML back in 1993, but it wasn't considered a tag to add to images on web pages until 1999.

It wasn't considered a necessary component until 2006 when the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) filed a class action lawsuit to challenge whether the limitations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 applied to websites.

To best understand how alternative text should be used or written, refer to this helpful decision tree


Also known as alt text.