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RE: Length of Alt Tags


From: Jim Thatcher
Date: Dec 10, 2002 10:44PM


The issue can be phrased as what would you like to listen to ... when you
must listen to everything? I think both 64 and 50 characters are on the long
end especially when the alt text replaces a few characters of text in the
image. By placing very short alt text on images you contribute to a
comfortable experience for someone who is listening to the page. If you
would like a longer informative mouse-over in IE, a title attribute will
provide that. And long descriptions are required if you are providing a text
equivalent for a chart or graph.

I hope that listening to the page with, say, HPR (the simplest) will
convince you that the shorter text works.

Accessibility Consulting
508 Web accessibility Tutorial: http://jimthatcher.com/webcourse1.htm

-----Original Message-----
From: Rachel [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 6:27 PM
Subject: Length of Alt Tags

Jukka Korpela recommends that alt tags be under 50
characters (see
I think Jakob Nielsen recommends a limit of 64
characters or 10 words.


Is there any practical reason why we can?t use longer
alt tags? Other than the reason that it may not be
aesthetically pleasing (i.e. in visual browsers with
images turned off or when a visual user gets a tooltip
on mouseover)?

On the disability.gov home page, for example, the alt
tag for Banner-quote.gif is 156 characters long (25
words). Are there any problems with this?

If not, then could an alt tag conceivably even be
used, instead of a long description, for graphics that
require an extensive description?

Rachel Sengers

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