Alt text is a term that’s mostly associated with images that you find online. It’s text that normally accompanies an image and it was originally meant to be read by search engines. Its usefulness has changed since there is now AI that can analyze an image and automatically generate Alt text for it for everyone’s benefit. Facebook does it to all your photos. Alt text is also useful for the visually impaired. It allows them to know what is in an image if they are unable to or have difficulty seeing it. Word in Office 365 automatically generates Alt text for the images that you insert in a document. The descriptions aren’t terrible but you can improve them if you were to write them yourself. Here’s how you change the Alt text for images in Office 365
Change auto-generated Alt text
Alt text is generated for each image you insert in a document and, assuming each image is different, the text that is generated will also be different. To view the Alt text, and to change it, right-click an image, and select ‘Edit Alt Text’ from the context menu.
The Alt Text bar will open and show you the auto-generated Alt text.
If the description is inaccurate, click inside the box and enter a new one. It will be saved automatically.
If you’d like to go back to the auto-generated Alt text, click the ‘Generate a description for me’ button under the text box. This is a useful tool that makes a document more accessible, however, if you find that the descriptions being generated aren’t very good, you can disable this feature, and enter them entirely on your own. You will no longer be able to generate a description from the Alt text bar once you disable the feature. The ‘Generate a description for me’ will not appear.
To disable the auto-generated Alt text, go File>Options. On the Options window, select Ease of access. Under the Automatic Alt Text section, uncheck the ‘Automatically generate alt text for me’ option.
Alt text is a great feature but the AI that Office 365 uses needs improvement. Alt text is available in all Office 365 apps that you can insert an image in but, in some apps, it is not generated automatically. In Word and PowerPoint, you can get auto-generated alt text but in Excel, you cannot. If you’ve added an image to an Excel sheet, and you’d like to enter alt text for it, right-click it and select ‘Edit alt text’ from the context menu.