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Making content accessible: Guidelines for MITL staff: Describing artwork

Guide to help staff make their content accessible to all users

How to write alt text for art

If you include artwork in your content then you need to describe the artwork. This means including a short, detailed description of the art. The description should include the physical features of the art.

An example of when you might need to do this is a guide on Renaissance art or a guide on the art in one of our libraries.

The expectation is that the title, artist, and medium of the artwork will already be mentioned in the text of the page, and therefore do not need to be included in the alt text. If this is not the case, they need to be included in the alt text.

Other resources

Example of describing artwork

Example page with art and text:

Oil painting on canvas. A light skinned young woman is wearing a very large pearl earring, and a gold jacket. She is turned and meets the viewer’s gaze.

Title: Girl with the Pearl Earring

Artist: Johannes Vermeer

Medium: Oil on canvas, 1665

Alternative text:

A light-skinned young woman is wearing a turban of blue and yellow scarves, a large fake pearl earring, and a gold jacket. She is turned and meets the viewer’s gaze.