5 Ways to Add Alt Text in Microsoft Excel

Do you need to add alt text to your images, shapes, charts, or other objects in Excel?

images play an important role in conveying information. But, for people with visual impairments, images can be inaccessible. This is why alt text is so important.

Alt text is a brief description of an image that can be read by screen-reading software. It allows people with vision impairments to understand the images in your workbook.

Including alt text is essential for making sure that all users can access the content of your spreadsheet.

This post is going to show you exactly how to insert alternative text in Excel.

Add Alt Text with the Format Tab

When you select an object such as an image, shape, or chart a Format tab will appear on the ribbon.

This will allow you to edit various effects for the object. But it also contains the command for adding alt text.

Follow these steps to add alt text to your image.

  1. Left-click on your image to select it.

You should see the 8 resize handles appear when your image is selected. You should also see the Format tab appear in the ribbon.

  1. Go to the Format tab.
  2. Click on the Alt Text command.

This will open the Alt Text window pane on the right side of the worksheet.

  1. Enter a short description for the image’s alternate text.
  2. Click on the X in the top right of the Alt Text pane.

You can optionally check the Mark as decorative setting so that anyone using a screen reader will know the image is not important to understanding the document.

Now your image has an alt text description!

Add Alt Text with the Right Click Menu

By far the easiest way to add alt text to your images and other object is through the right-click menu.

Add alt text to your image from the right-click menu.

  1. Right-click on the image to which you want to add your alternate text.
  2. Select View Alt Text from the options. This will open the Alt Text window pane.
  3. Add your descriptive alt text to the text box in the Alt Text pane.

This is definitely the quickest way to add alt text to any object.

Add Alt Text with the Review Tab

Another place you can access the alt text command is from the Review tab.

  1. Select the image you want to add alt text on.
  2. Go to the Review tab.
  3. Click on the lower half of the Check Accessibility command.
  4. Select the Alt Text option from the menu. This will open the Alt Text window pane.
  5. Add your alternate text description to the Alt Text window pane.

The image now has an alt text!

Add Alt Text to a Table

You can also add alt text to an Excel table. But alt text works a bit differently with tables.

You can check out this post for more details on Excel tables.

Follow these steps to add alt text to a table.

  1. Right-click anywhere in the table.
  2. Select Table from the menu.
  3. Select Alternative Text from the submenu options.

This will open the Alternative Text menu.

  1. Enter a Title.
  2. Enter a Description for the alt text.
  3. Press the OK button.

This will add an alt text to your Excel table object.

Add Alt Text with VBA

You can also add alt text using VBA. For this, you will need to know the object name to reference it in the VBA code.

The name can be easily found using the Name Box. Select your image and you will be able to see the name in the upper left of the worksheet in the Name Box.

Sub AddAltText()
   ActiveSheet.Shapes.Range(Array("Picture 5")).Select
   Selection.ShapeRange.AlternativeText = "Close-up of full wine glass"
End Sub

The above VBA code will select "Picture 5" and then add the alt text "Close-up of full wine glass" to the image.

Add Alt Text with Office Scripts

The same can be done with Office Scripts in Excel online.

function main(workbook: ExcelScript.Workbook) {
	let selectedSheet = workbook.getActiveWorksheet();
	let img = selectedSheet.getShape("Picture 5");
	// Set title and alt text title of shape picture_5
	img.setAltTextTitle("Wine Photo");
	img.setAltTextDescription("Close-up of full wine glass");
}

The above Office Script code will add the title "Wine Photo" and alt text "Close-up of full wine glass" to "Picture 5" in the workbook.

Conclusions

Alt text is a very important feature for accessibility reasons. It’s a good idea to add alt text to any images or other objects in your workbook so all users can fully understand your workbook.

The Alt text menu can be accessed from several different ribbon tabs or the right-click menu. All of these will have the same result!

Adding alt text to a table is a bit different though and you will need to access this through a right-click table submenu.

Alt text can also be added programmatically with both VBA or Office Scripts.

Have you ever used the alt text feature in your Excel solutions? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author

John MacDougall

John MacDougall

John is a Microsoft MVP and qualified actuary with over 15 years of experience. He has worked in a variety of industries, including insurance, ad tech, and most recently Power Platform consulting. He is a keen problem solver and has a passion for using technology to make businesses more efficient.

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