Frequently Asked Questions

How is Alt Text different from the figure caption?

Alt text describes the key elements or meaning of an image/figure in vivid detail which is read aloud via assistive technology to people with visual impairment or print disability who cannot see/read/interpret the figure or image in our traditional sense.

A caption is either a brief explanation or a substantial piece of text running over one or more paragraphs accompanying the image and is required for its interpretation, but it does not describe the figure in a visual sense.

Are long descriptions mandatory for all figures?

Not all visual elements require Long Description as this is reserved for very complex images that may not be adequately described within the 10 to 100 word limit Alt Text restriction. Long descriptions are not a replacement for Alt Text, and must be provided at the same time. Where Alt Text is required, Long Descriptions are optional, and should only be submitted when the image's meaning cannot be sufficiently described in the caption, alt text, or surrounding body text within the main manuscript.

What submissions require Alt Text?

What doesn’t require Alt Text?

  • Mathematical Notation – Notations such as equations and matrices will be made accessible through the inclusion of MathML within the final eBook files
  • Tables – All tables will be created as searchable tables in the final eBook files, so do not need a description
  • Cover images – These descriptions are standardized in the eBook files

Does music notation require alt text?

Authors and contributors do not need to supply Alt Text for music notation. Music notation is difficult to describe using Alt Text and there is no best practice for writing these descriptions (yet), so Taylor & Francis will use a formulaic approach to describing the music's title and author within any book product.

Why should I, as an author or contributor, submit Alt Text?

Benefits of rendering your Work accessible

Alt Text is an integral component of rendering your work “accessible”. As part of accessible publishing, it ensures that T&F provides equitable opportunities to each reader, including those with visual and print impairments, by acknowledging their challenges and addressing the needs at hand. The incorporation of Alt Text further enhances the Author’s reputation since it indicates a clear support of accessibility requirements and publications.

We ask our Authors to generate and compile the Alt Text for their work as the subject matter experts, who will best represent their content and meaning over a third-party.

Marketing and searchability advantages of including Alt Text

In addition to making the content more accessible, Alt Text is also efficacious in the marketing and discoverability of your work which rely heavily on search engine optimization. The inclusion of Alt Text enhances the searchability of your content since it is indexed by organizations with the likes of Amazon and Google and will make sure your work comes up at the top of the list in search results.

Legal requirements

While there are clear ethical imperatives to ensuring an equitable customer experience from incorporating Alt Text, it is also framed by legal requirements. European Union Member States will have to adopt and publish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the European Accessibility Act by 28 June 2022. Member States will then have to apply the measures from 28 June 2025. For T&F to sell an eBook after 28 June 2025, the product must comply with the accessibility requirements of the Act, even if the eBook was created at an earlier date.

In the United States, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Americans with Disabilities Act) protects the rights and interests of customers. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others. US-based universities cannot receive federal funding unless the titles they adopt are ADA-compliant, so ensuring your book is accessible is one way to safeguard your title for institutional purchase and, if applicable, course adoption.

The introduction of a “born accessible” workflow now will eliminate the prohibitive cost of time and resources required to remediate content for accessibility and ensures customer needs are met from the very start.

Should I identify age, gender, or race in descriptions of people in Alt Text?

In general, demographic information is avoided unless it has a direct impact on the image itself. For example, an image of protestors challenging police takes on a new meaning when the police are Caucasian, and the protestors are of African heritage. In most images where a single person isn’t the focal point, more general descriptions are ok as long as the overall scene is portrayed. When the image is a person on their own, please include demographic details. Writing that an image is ‘a portrait image of Colonel Travis’, means nothing to most people, especially if they did not study Texas history. In this instance, the alt text can set the scene and provide substantive detail to those who do not know the subject: ‘A Caucasian male in his early 30s with a thin face, light brown receding hair, long sideburns, poses on a chair wearing a long military style coat’.

Are there other resources available?

Yes, you can find a lot of information on writing Alt Text online. We encourage all authors and contributors to seek out further guidance where needed, but ask that you please follow the submission guidelines and requirements put in place by Taylor & Francis. Here is a helpful summary of Do’s and Don’ts:


Do’s Don’ts

Keep alt text descriptions below 100 words. If an image is very complex, include a long description as an option for the screen reader to play. 


Provide extended alt text descriptions for every image. Overly long descriptions will fatigue a reader. 


Use clear and simple language and end your sentences with a full stop so the screen reader will pause. 


Overpopulate the alt text with keywords in an unnatural manner. It will negatively impact the reader’s experience. 


Remember to include not only the visual elements of the image, but its purpose in the manuscript. 


Describe the image without explaining its purpose in the manuscript. How does it relate to the sections before and after it? 


Other useful links include: