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      1. 4.8.1 The img element
        1. 4.8.1.1 Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images
          1. 4.8.1.1.1 General guidelines
          2. 4.8.1.1.2 A link or button containing nothing but the image
          3. 4.8.1.1.3 A phrase or paragraph with an alternative graphical representation: charts, diagrams, graphs, maps, illustrations
          4. 4.8.1.1.4 A short phrase or label with an alternative graphical representation: icons, logos
          5. 4.8.1.1.5 Text that has been rendered to a graphic for typographical effect
          6. 4.8.1.1.6 A graphical representation of some of the surrounding text
          7. 4.8.1.1.7 A purely decorative image that doesn't add any information
          8. 4.8.1.1.8 A group of images that form a single larger picture with no links
          9. 4.8.1.1.9 A group of images that form a single larger picture with links
          10. 4.8.1.1.10 A key part of the content
          11. 4.8.1.1.11 An image not intended for the user
          12. 4.8.1.1.12 Guidance for markup generators
          13. 4.8.1.1.13 Guidance for conformance checkers

4.8.1 The img element

Categories:
Flow content.
Phrasing content.
Embedded content.
If the element has a usemap attribute: Interactive content.
Palpable content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
Where embedded content is expected.
Content model:
Empty.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
alt
src
crossorigin
usemap
ismap
width
height
DOM interface:
[NamedConstructor=Image(),
 NamedConstructor=Image(unsigned long width),
 NamedConstructor=Image(unsigned long width, unsigned long height)]
interface HTMLImageElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute DOMString alt;
           attribute DOMString src;

           attribute DOMString crossOrigin;
           attribute DOMString useMap;
           attribute boolean isMap;
           attribute unsigned long width;
           attribute unsigned long height;
  readonly attribute unsigned long naturalWidth;
  readonly attribute unsigned long naturalHeight;
  readonly attribute boolean complete;
};

An img element represents an image.

The image given by the src attributes is the embedded content; the value of the alt attribute provides equivalent content for those who cannot process images or who have image loading disabled.

The requirements on the alt attribute's value are described in the next section.

The src attribute must be present, and must contain a valid non-empty URL potentially surrounded by spaces referencing a non-interactive, optionally animated, image resource that is neither paged nor scripted.

The requirements above imply that images can be static bitmaps (e.g. PNGs, GIFs, JPEGs), single-page vector documents (single-page PDFs, XML files with an SVG root element), animated bitmaps (APNGs, animated GIFs), animated vector graphics (XML files with an SVG root element that use declarative SMIL animation), and so forth. However, these definitions preclude SVG files with script, multipage PDF files, interactive MNG files, HTML documents, plain text documents, and so forth.

The img element must not be used as a layout tool. In particular, img elements should not be used to display transparent images, as they rarely convey meaning and rarely add anything useful to the document.


The crossorigin attribute is a CORS settings attribute. Its purpose is to allow images from third-party sites that allow cross-origin access to be used with canvas.


An img is always in one of the following states:

Unavailable
The user agent hasn't obtained any image data.
Partially available
The user agent has obtained some of the image data.
Completely available
The user agent has obtained all of the image data and at least the image dimensions are available.
Broken
The user agent has obtained all of the image data that it can, but it cannot even decode the image enough to get the image dimensions (e.g. the image is corrupted, or the format is not supported, or no data could be obtained).

When an img element is either in the partially available state or in the completely available state, it is said to be available.

An img element is initially unavailable.

When an img element is available, it provides a paint source whose width is the image's intrinsic width, whose height is the image's intrinsic height, and whose appearance is the intrinsic appearance of the image.

User agents may obtain images immediately or on demand.

A user agent that obtains images immediately must synchronously update the image data of an img element whenever that element is created with a src attribute . A user agent that obtains images immediately must also synchronously update the image data of an img element whenever that element has its src, or crossorigin attribute set, changed, or removed.

A user agent that obtains images on demand must update the image data of an img element whenever it needs the image data (i.e. on demand), but only if the img element has a src attribute, and only if the img element is in the unavailable state. When an img element's src, or crossorigin attribute set, changed, or removed, if the user agent only obtains images on demand, the img element must return to the unavailable state.

Each img element has a last selected source, which must initially be null, and a current pixel density, which must initially be undefined.

When an img element has a current pixel density that is not 1.0, the element's image data must be treated as if its resolution, in device pixels per CSS pixels, was the current pixel density.

For example, if the current pixel density is 3.125, that means that there are 300 device pixels per CSS inch, and thus if the image data is 300x600, it has an intrinsic dimension of 96 CSS pixels by 192 CSS pixels.

Each Document object must have a list of available images. Each image in this list is identified by a tuple consisting of an absolute URL, a CORS settings attribute mode, and, if the mode is not No CORS, an origin. User agents may copy entries from one Document object's list of available images to another at any time (e.g. when the Document is created, user agents can add to it all the images that are loaded in other Documents), but must not change the keys of entries copied in this way when doing so. User agents may also remove images from such lists at any time (e.g. to save memory).

When the user agent is to update the image data of an img element, it must run the following steps:

  1. Return the img element to the unavailable state.

  2. If an instance of the fetching algorithm is still running for this element, then abort that algorithm, discarding any pending tasks generated by that algorithm.

  3. Forget the img element's current image data, if any.

  4. If the user agent cannot support images, or its support for images has been disabled, then abort these steps.

  5. Otherwise, if the element has a src attribute specified and its value is not the empty string, let selected source be the value of the element's src attribute, and selected pixel density be 1.0. Otherwise, let selected source be null and selected pixel density be undefined.
  6. Let the img element's last selected source be selected source and the img element's current pixel density be selected pixel density.

  7. Resolve selected source, relative to the element. If that is not successful, abort these steps.

  8. Let key be a tuple consisting of the resulting absolute URL, the img element's crossorigin attribute's mode, and, if that mode is not No CORS, the Document object's origin.

  9. If the list of available images, contains an entry for key, then set the img element to the completely available state, update the presentation of the image appropriately, queue a task to fire a simple event named load at the img element, and abort these steps.

  10. Asynchronously await a stable state, allowing the task that invoked this algorithm to continue. The synchronous section consists of all the remaining steps of this algorithm until the algorithm says the synchronous section has ended. (Steps in synchronous sections are marked with ⌛.)

  11. ⌛ If another instance of this algorithm for this img element was started after this instance (even if it aborted and is no longer running), then abort these steps.

    Only the last instance takes effect, to avoid multiple requests when, for example, the src, and crossorigin attributes are all set in succession.

  12. ⌛ If selected source is null, then set the element to the broken state, queue a task to fire a simple event named error at the img element, and abort these steps.

  13. Do a potentially CORS-enabled fetch of the absolute URL that resulted from the earlier step, with the mode being the state of the element's crossorigin content attribute, the origin being the origin of the img element's Document, and the default origin behaviour set to taint.

    The resource obtained in this fashion, if any, is the img element's image data. It can be either CORS-same-origin or CORS-cross-origin; this affects the origin of the image itself (e.g. when used on a canvas).

    Fetching the image must delay the load event of the element's document until the task that is queued by the networking task source once the resource has been fetched (defined below) has been run.

    This, unfortunately, can be used to perform a rudimentary port scan of the user's local network (especially in conjunction with scripting, though scripting isn't actually necessary to carry out such an attack). User agents may implement cross-origin access control policies that are stricter than those described above to mitigate this attack, but unfortunately such policies are typically not compatible with existing Web content.

    The first task that is queued by the networking task source while the image is being fetched must set the img element's state to partially available.

    If the resource is in a supported image format, then each task that is queued by the networking task source while the image is being fetched must update the presentation of the image appropriately (e.g. if the image is a progressive JPEG, each packet can improve the resolution of the image); furthermore, the last task that is queued by the networking task source once the resource has been fetched must act as appropriate given the following alternatives:

    If the download was successful and the user agent was able to determine the image's width and height
    Set the img element to the completely available state, update the presentation of the image appropriately, add the image to the list of available images using the key key, and fire a simple event named load at the img element.
    Otherwise
    Set the img element to the broken state, and fire a simple event named error at the img element.

    On the other hand, if the resource type is multipart/x-mixed-replace, then each task that is queued by the networking task source while the image is being fetched must also update the presentation of the image, but as each new body part comes in, it must replace the previous image. Once one body part has been completely decoded, the user agent must set the img element to the completely available state and queue a task to fire a simple event named load at the img element.

    Otherwise, either the image data is corrupted in some fatal way such that the image dimensions cannot be obtained, or the image data is not in a supported file format; the user agent must set the img element to the broken state, abort the fetching algorithm, discarding any pending tasks generated by that algorithm, and then queue a task to fire a simple event named error at the img element.

While a user agent is running the above algorithm for an element x, there must be a strong reference from the element's Document to the element x, even if that element is not in its Document.

When an img element is in the completely available state and the user agent can decode the media data without errors, then the img element is said to be fully decodable.

Whether the image is fetched successfully or not (e.g. whether the response code was a 2xx code or equivalent) must be ignored when determining the image's type and whether it is a valid image.

This allows servers to return images with error responses, and have them displayed.

The user agents should apply the image sniffing rules to determine the type of the image, with the image's associated Content-Type headers giving the official type. If these rules are not applied, then the type of the image must be the type given by the image's associated Content-Type headers.

User agents must not support non-image resources with the img element (e.g. XML files whose root element is an HTML element). User agents must not run executable code (e.g. scripts) embedded in the image resource. User agents must only display the first page of a multipage resource (e.g. a PDF file). User agents must not allow the resource to act in an interactive fashion, but should honor any animation in the resource.

This specification does not specify which image types are to be supported.



What an img element represents depends on the src attribute and the alt attribute.

If the src attribute is set and the alt attribute is set to the empty string

The image is either decorative or supplemental to the rest of the content, redundant with some other information in the document.

If the image is available and the user agent is configured to display that image, then the element represents the element's image data.

Otherwise, the element represents nothing, and may be omitted completely from the rendering. User agents may provide the user with a notification that an image is present but has been omitted from the rendering.

If the src attribute is set and the alt attribute is set to a value that isn't empty

The image is a key part of the content; the alt attribute gives a textual equivalent or replacement for the image.

If the image is available and the user agent is configured to display that image, then the element represents the element's image data.

Otherwise, the element represents the text given by the alt attribute. User agents may provide the user with a notification that an image is present but has been omitted from the rendering.

If the src attribute is set and the alt attribute is not

The image might be a key part of the content, and there is no textual equivalent of the image available.

In a conforming document, the absence of the alt attribute indicates that the image is a key part of the content but that a textual replacement for the image was not available when the image was generated.

If the image is available and the user agent is configured to display that image, then the element represents the element's image data.

Otherwise, the user agent should display some sort of indicator that there is an image that is not being rendered, and may, if requested by the user, or if so configured, or when required to provide contextual information in response to navigation, provide caption information for the image, derived as follows:

  1. If the image has a title attribute whose value is not the empty string, then the value of that attribute is the caption information; abort these steps.

  2. If the image is a descendant of a figure element that has a child figcaption element, and, ignoring the figcaption element and its descendants, the figure element has no Text node descendants other than inter-element whitespace, and no embedded content descendant other than the img element, then the contents of the first such figcaption element are the caption information; abort these steps.

  3. There is no caption information.

If the src attribute is not set and either the alt attribute is set to the empty string or the alt attribute is not set at all

The element represents nothing.

Otherwise

The element represents the text given by the alt attribute.

The alt attribute does not represent advisory information. User agents must not present the contents of the alt attribute in the same way as content of the title attribute.

User agents may always provide the user with the option to display any image, or to prevent any image from being displayed.

While user agents are encouraged to repair cases of missing alt attributes, authors must not rely on such behavior. Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images are described in detail below.

The contents of img elements, if any, are ignored for the purposes of rendering.


The usemap attribute, if present, can indicate that the image has an associated image map.

The ismap attribute, when used on an element that is a descendant of an a element with an href attribute, indicates by its presence that the element provides access to a server-side image map. This affects how events are handled on the corresponding a element.

The ismap attribute is a boolean attribute. The attribute must not be specified on an element that does not have an ancestor a element with an href attribute.

The img element supports dimension attributes.

The alt, src, IDL attributes must reflect the respective content attributes of the same name.

The crossOrigin IDL attribute must reflect the crossorigin content attribute.

The useMap IDL attribute must reflect the usemap content attribute.

The isMap IDL attribute must reflect the ismap content attribute.

image . width [ = value ]
image . height [ = value ]

These attributes return the actual rendered dimensions of the image, or zero if the dimensions are not known.

They can be set, to change the corresponding content attributes.

image . naturalWidth
image . naturalHeight

These attributes return the intrinsic dimensions of the image, or zero if the dimensions are not known.

image . complete

Returns true if the image has been completely downloaded or if no image is specified; otherwise, returns false.

image = new Image( [ width [, height ] ] )

Returns a new img element, with the width and height attributes set to the values passed in the relevant arguments, if applicable.

The IDL attributes width and height must return the rendered width and height of the image, in CSS pixels, if the image is being rendered, and is being rendered to a visual medium; or else the intrinsic width and height of the image, in CSS pixels, if the image is available but not being rendered to a visual medium; or else 0, if the image is not available. [CSS]

On setting, they must act as if they reflected the respective content attributes of the same name.

The IDL attributes naturalWidth and naturalHeight must return the intrinsic width and height of the image, in CSS pixels, if the image is available, or else 0. [CSS]

The IDL attribute complete must return true if any of the following conditions is true:

Otherwise, the attribute must return false.

The value of complete can thus change while a script is executing.

Three constructors are provided for creating HTMLImageElement objects (in addition to the factory methods from DOM Core such as createElement()): Image(), Image(width), and Image(width, height). When invoked as constructors, these must return a new HTMLImageElement object (a new img element). If the width argument is present, the new object's width content attribute must be set to width. If the height argument is also present, the new object's height content attribute must be set to height. The element's document must be the active document of the browsing context of the Window object on which the interface object of the invoked constructor is found.

A single image can have different appropriate alternative text depending on the context.

In each of the following cases, the same image is used, yet the alt text is different each time. The image is the coat of arms of the Carouge municipality in the canton Geneva in Switzerland.

Here it is used as a supplementary icon:

<p>I lived in <img src="carouge.svg" alt=""> Carouge.</p>

Here it is used as an icon representing the town:

<p>Home town: <img src="carouge.svg" alt="Carouge"></p>

Here it is used as part of a text on the town:

<p>Carouge has a coat of arms.</p>
<p><img src="carouge.svg" alt="The coat of arms depicts a lion, sitting in front of a tree."></p>
<p>It is used as decoration all over the town.</p>

Here it is used as a way to support a similar text where the description is given as well as, instead of as an alternative to, the image:

<p>Carouge has a coat of arms.</p>
<p><img src="carouge.svg" alt=""></p>
<p>The coat of arms depicts a lion, sitting in front of a tree.
It is used as decoration all over the town.</p>

Here it is used as part of a story:

<p>He picked up the folder and a piece of paper fell out.</p>
<p><img src="carouge.svg" alt="Shaped like a shield, the paper had a
red background, a green tree, and a yellow lion with its tongue
hanging out and whose tail was shaped like an S."></p>
<p>He stared at the folder. S! The answer he had been looking for all
this time was simply the letter S! How had he not seen that before? It all
came together now. The phone call where Hector had referred to a lion's tail,
the time Marco had stuck his tongue out...</p>

Here it is not known at the time of publication what the image will be, only that it will be a coat of arms of some kind, and thus no replacement text can be provided, and instead only a brief caption for the image is provided, in the title attribute:

<p>The last user to have uploaded a coat of arms uploaded this one:</p>
<p><img src="last-uploaded-coat-of-arms.cgi" title="User-uploaded coat of arms."></p>

Ideally, the author would find a way to provide real replacement text even in this case, e.g. by asking the previous user. Not providing replacement text makes the document more difficult to use for people who are unable to view images, e.g. blind users, or users or very low-bandwidth connections or who pay by the byte, or users who are forced to use a text-only Web browser.

Here are some more examples showing the same picture used in different contexts, with different appropriate alternate texts each time.

<article>
 <h1>My cats</h1>
 <h2>Fluffy</h2>
 <p>Fluffy is my favorite.</p>
 <img src="fluffy.jpg" alt="She likes playing with a ball of yarn.">
 <p>She's just too cute.</p>
 <h2>Miles</h2>
 <p>My other cat, Miles just eats and sleeps.</p>
</article>
<article>
 <h1>Photography</h1>
 <h2>Shooting moving targets indoors</h2>
 <p>The trick here is to know how to anticipate; to know at what speed and
 what distance the subject will pass by.</p>
 <img src="fluffy.jpg" alt="A cat flying by, chasing a ball of yarn, can be
 photographed quite nicely using this technique.">
 <h2>Nature by night</h2>
 <p>To achieve this, you'll need either an extremely sensitive film, or
 immense flash lights.</p>
</article>
<article>
 <h1>About me</h1>
 <h2>My pets</h2>
 <p>I've got a cat named Fluffy and a dog named Miles.</p>
 <img src="fluffy.jpg" alt="Fluffy, my cat, tends to keep itself busy.">
 <p>My dog Miles and I like go on long walks together.</p>
 <h2>music</h2>
 <p>After our walks, having emptied my mind, I like listening to Bach.</p>
</article>
<article>
 <h1>Fluffy and the Yarn</h1>
 <p>Fluffy was a cat who liked to play with yarn. He also liked to jump.</p>
 <aside><img src="fluffy.jpg" alt="" title="Fluffy"></aside>
 <p>He would play in the morning, he would play in the evening.</p>
</article>
4.8.1.1 Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images
4.8.1.1.1 General guidelines

Except where otherwise specified, the alt attribute must be specified and its value must not be empty; the value must be an appropriate replacement for the image. The specific requirements for the alt attribute depend on what the image is intended to represent, as described in the following sections.

The most general rule to consider when writing alternative text is the following: the intent is that replacing every image with the text of its alt attribute not change the meaning of the page.

So, in general, alternative text can be written by considering what one would have written had one not been able to include the image.

A corollary to this is that the alt attribute's value should never contain text that could be considered the image's caption, title, or legend. It is supposed to contain replacement text that could be used by users instead of the image; it is not meant to supplement the image. The title attribute can be used for supplemental information.

Another corollary is that the alt attribute's value should not repeat information that is already provided in the prose next to the image.

One way to think of alternative text is to think about how you would read the page containing the image to someone over the phone, without mentioning that there is an image present. Whatever you say instead of the image is typically a good start for writing the alternative text.

When an a element that creates a hyperlink, or a button element, has no textual content but contains one or more images, the alt attributes must contain text that together convey the purpose of the link or button.

In this example, a user is asked to pick his preferred color from a list of three. Each color is given by an image, but for users who have configured their user agent not to display images, the color names are used instead:

<h1>Pick your color</h1>
<ul>
 <li><a href="green.html"><img src="green.jpeg" alt="Green"></a></li>
 <li><a href="blue.html"><img src="blue.jpeg" alt="Blue"></a></li>
 <li><a href="red.html"><img src="red.jpeg" alt="Red"></a></li>
</ul>

In this example, each button has a set of images to indicate the kind of color output desired by the user. The first image is used in each case to give the alternative text.

<button name="rgb"><img src="red" alt="RGB"><img src="green" alt=""><img src="blue" alt=""></button>
<button name="cmyk"><img src="cyan" alt="CMYK"><img src="magenta" alt=""><img src="yellow" alt=""><img src="black" alt=""></button>

Since each image represents one part of the text, it could also be written like this:

<button name="rgb"><img src="red" alt="R"><img src="green" alt="G"><img src="blue" alt="B"></button>
<button name="cmyk"><img src="cyan" alt="C"><img src="magenta" alt="M"><img src="yellow" alt="Y"><img src="black" alt="K"></button>

However, with other alternative text, this might not work, and putting all the alternative text into one image in each case might make more sense:

<button name="rgb"><img src="red" alt="sRGB profile"><img src="green" alt=""><img src="blue" alt=""></button>
<button name="cmyk"><img src="cyan" alt="CMYK profile"><img src="magenta" alt=""><img src="yellow" alt=""><img src="black" alt=""></button>
4.8.1.1.3 A phrase or paragraph with an alternative graphical representation: charts, diagrams, graphs, maps, illustrations

Sometimes something can be more clearly stated in graphical form, for example as a flowchart, a diagram, a graph, or a simple map showing directions. In such cases, an image can be given using the img element, but the lesser textual version must still be given, so that users who are unable to view the image (e.g. because they have a very slow connection, or because they are using a text-only browser, or because they are listening to the page being read out by a hands-free automobile voice Web browser, or simply because they are blind) are still able to understand the message being conveyed.

The text must be given in the alt attribute, and must convey the same message as the image specified in the src attribute.

It is important to realize that the alternative text is a replacement for the image, not a description of the image.

In the following example we have a flowchart in image form, with text in the alt attribute rephrasing the flowchart in prose form:

<p>In the common case, the data handled by the tokenization stage
comes from the network, but it can also come from script.</p>
<p><img src="images/parsing-model-overview.png" alt="The Network
passes data to the Input Stream Preprocessor, which passes it to the
Tokenizer, which passes it to the Tree Construction stage. From there,
data goes to both the DOM and to Script Execution. Script Execution is
linked to the DOM, and, using document.write(), passes data to the
Tokenizer."></p>

Here's another example, showing a good solution and a bad solution to the problem of including an image in a description.

First, here's the good solution. This sample shows how the alternative text should just be what you would have put in the prose if the image had never existed.

<!-- This is the correct way to do things. -->
<p>
 You are standing in an open field west of a house.
 <img src="house.jpeg" alt="The house is white, with a boarded front door.">
 There is a small mailbox here.
</p>

Second, here's the bad solution. In this incorrect way of doing things, the alternative text is simply a description of the image, instead of a textual replacement for the image. It's bad because when the image isn't shown, the text doesn't flow as well as in the first example.

<!-- This is the wrong way to do things. -->
<p>
 You are standing in an open field west of a house.
 <img src="house.jpeg" alt="A white house, with a boarded front door.">
 There is a small mailbox here.
</p>

Text such as "Photo of white house with boarded door" would be equally bad alternative text (though it could be suitable for the title attribute or in the figcaption element of a figure with this image).

4.8.1.1.4 A short phrase or label with an alternative graphical representation: icons, logos

A document can contain information in iconic form. The icon is intended to help users of visual browsers to recognize features at a glance.

In some cases, the icon is supplemental to a text label conveying the same meaning. In those cases, the alt attribute must be present but must be empty.

Here the icons are next to text that conveys the same meaning, so they have an empty alt attribute:

<nav>
 <p><a href="/help/"><img src="/icons/help.png" alt=""> Help</a></p>
 <p><a href="/configure/"><img src="/icons/configuration.png" alt="">
 Configuration Tools</a></p>
</nav>

In other cases, the icon has no text next to it describing what it means; the icon is supposed to be self-explanatory. In those cases, an equivalent textual label must be given in the alt attribute.

Here, posts on a news site are labeled with an icon indicating their topic.

<body>
 <article>
  <header>
   <h1>Ratatouille wins <i>Best Movie of the Year</i> award</h1>
   <p><img src="movies.png" alt="Movies"></p>
  </header>
  <p>Pixar has won yet another <i>Best Movie of the Year</i> award,
  making this its 8th win in the last 12 years.</p>
 </article>
 <article>
  <header>
   <h1>Latest TWiT episode is online</h1>
   <p><img src="podcasts.png" alt="Podcasts"></p>
  </header>
  <p>The latest TWiT episode has been posted, in which we hear
  several tech news stories as well as learning much more about the
  iPhone. This week, the panelists compare how reflective their
  iPhones' Apple logos are.</p>
 </article>
</body>

Many pages include logos, insignia, flags, or emblems, which stand for a particular entity such as a company, organization, project, band, software package, country, or some such.

If the logo is being used to represent the entity, e.g. as a page heading, the alt attribute must contain the name of the entity being represented by the logo. The alt attribute must not contain text like the word "logo", as it is not the fact that it is a logo that is being conveyed, it's the entity itself.

If the logo is being used next to the name of the entity that it represents, then the logo is supplemental, and its alt attribute must instead be empty.

If the logo is merely used as decorative material (as branding, or, for example, as a side image in an article that mentions the entity to which the logo belongs), then the entry below on purely decorative images applies. If the logo is actually being discussed, then it is being used as a phrase or paragraph (the description of the logo) with an alternative graphical representation (the logo itself), and the first entry above applies.

In the following snippets, all four of the above cases are present. First, we see a logo used to represent a company:

<h1><img src="XYZ.gif" alt="The XYZ company"></h1>

Next, we see a paragraph which uses a logo right next to the company name, and so doesn't have any alternative text:

<article>
 <h2>News</h2>
 <p>We have recently been looking at buying the <img src="alpha.gif"
 alt=""> ΑΒΓ company, a small Greek company
 specializing in our type of product.</p>

In this third snippet, we have a logo being used in an aside, as part of the larger article discussing the acquisition:

 <aside><p><img src="alpha-large.gif" alt=""></p></aside>
 <p>The ΑΒΓ company has had a good quarter, and our
 pie chart studies of their accounts suggest a much bigger blue slice
 than its green and orange slices, which is always a good sign.</p>
</article>

Finally, we have an opinion piece talking about a logo, and the logo is therefore described in detail in the alternative text.

<p>Consider for a moment their logo:</p>

<p><img src="/images/logo" alt="It consists of a green circle with a
green question mark centered inside it."></p>

<p>How unoriginal can you get? I mean, oooooh, a question mark, how
<em>revolutionary</em>, how utterly <em>ground-breaking</em>, I'm
sure everyone will rush to adopt those specifications now! They could
at least have tried for some sort of, I don't know, sequence of
rounded squares with varying shades of green and bold white outlines,
at least that would look good on the cover of a blue book.</p>

This example shows how the alternative text should be written such that if the image isn't available, and the text is used instead, the text flows seamlessly into the surrounding text, as if the image had never been there in the first place.

4.8.1.1.5 Text that has been rendered to a graphic for typographical effect

Sometimes, an image just consists of text, and the purpose of the image is not to highlight the actual typographic effects used to render the text, but just to convey the text itself.

In such cases, the alt attribute must be present but must consist of the same text as written in the image itself.

Consider a graphic containing the text "Earth Day", but with the letters all decorated with flowers and plants. If the text is merely being used as a heading, to spice up the page for graphical users, then the correct alternative text is just the same text "Earth Day", and no mention need be made of the decorations:

<h1><img src="earthdayheading.png" alt="Earth Day"></h1>
4.8.1.1.6 A graphical representation of some of the surrounding text

In many cases, the image is actually just supplementary, and its presence merely reinforces the surrounding text. In these cases, the alt attribute must be present but its value must be the empty string.

In general, an image falls into this category if removing the image doesn't make the page any less useful, but including the image makes it a lot easier for users of visual browsers to understand the concept.

A flowchart that repeats the previous paragraph in graphical form:

<p>The Network passes data to the Input Stream Preprocessor, which
passes it to the Tokenizer, which passes it to the Tree Construction
stage. From there, data goes to both the DOM and to Script Execution.
Script Execution is linked to the DOM, and, using document.write(),
passes data to the Tokenizer.</p>
<p><img src="images/parsing-model-overview.png" alt=""></p>

In these cases, it would be wrong to include alternative text that consists of just a caption. If a caption is to be included, then either the title attribute can be used, or the figure and figcaption elements can be used. In the latter case, the image would in fact be a phrase or paragraph with an alternative graphical representation, and would thus require alternative text.

<!-- Using the title="" attribute -->
<p>The Network passes data to the Input Stream Preprocessor, which
passes it to the Tokenizer, which passes it to the Tree Construction
stage. From there, data goes to both the DOM and to Script Execution.
Script Execution is linked to the DOM, and, using document.write(),
passes data to the Tokenizer.</p>
<p><img src="images/parsing-model-overview.png" alt=""
        title="Flowchart representation of the parsing model."></p>
<!-- Using <figure> and <figcaption> -->
<p>The Network passes data to the Input Stream Preprocessor, which
passes it to the Tokenizer, which passes it to the Tree Construction
stage. From there, data goes to both the DOM and to Script Execution.
Script Execution is linked to the DOM, and, using document.write(),
passes data to the Tokenizer.</p>
<figure>
 <img src="images/parsing-model-overview.png" alt="The Network leads to
 the Input Stream Preprocessor, which leads to the Tokenizer, which
 leads to the Tree Construction stage. The Tree Construction stage
 leads to two items. The first is Script Execution, which leads via
 document.write() back to the Tokenizer. The second item from which
 Tree Construction leads is the DOM. The DOM is related to the Script
 Execution.">
 <figcaption>Flowchart representation of the parsing model.</figcaption>
</figure>
<!-- This is WRONG. Do not do this. Instead, do what the above examples do. -->
<p>The Network passes data to the Input Stream Preprocessor, which
passes it to the Tokenizer, which passes it to the Tree Construction
stage. From there, data goes to both the DOM and to Script Execution.
Script Execution is linked to the DOM, and, using document.write(),
passes data to the Tokenizer.</p>
<p><img src="images/parsing-model-overview.png"
        alt="Flowchart representation of the parsing model."></p>
<!-- Never put the image's caption in the alt="" attribute! -->

A graph that repeats the previous paragraph in graphical form:

<p>According to a study covering several billion pages,
about 62% of documents on the Web in 2007 triggered the Quirks
rendering mode of Web browsers, about 30% triggered the Almost
Standards mode, and about 9% triggered the Standards mode.</p>
<p><img src="rendering-mode-pie-chart.png" alt=""></p>
4.8.1.1.7 A purely decorative image that doesn't add any information

If an image is decorative but isn't especially page-specific — for example an image that forms part of a site-wide design scheme — the image should be specified in the site's CSS, not in the markup of the document.

Exceptions to this rule, in cases where CSS cannot be used to display an entirely decorative image, are covered by the HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. [HTMLALTTECHS] Authors are also encouraged to consult the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 for more detailed information and acceptable techniques. [WCAG]

When a picture has been sliced into smaller image files that are then displayed together to form the complete picture again, one of the images must have its alt attribute set as per the relevant rules that would be appropriate for the picture as a whole, and then all the remaining images must have their alt attribute set to the empty string.

In the following example, a picture representing a company logo for XYZ Corp has been split into two pieces, the first containing the letters "XYZ" and the second with the word "Corp". The alternative text ("XYZ Corp") is all in the first image.

<h1><img src="logo1.png" alt="XYZ Corp"><img src="logo2.png" alt=""></h1>

In the following example, a rating is shown as three filled stars and two empty stars. While the alternative text could have been "★★★☆☆", the author has instead decided to more helpfully give the rating in the form "3 out of 5". That is the alternative text of the first image, and the rest have blank alternative text.

<p>Rating: <meter max=5 value=3><img src="1" alt="3 out of 5"
  ><img src="1" alt=""><img src="1" alt=""><img src="0" alt=""
  ><img src="0" alt=""></meter></p>

Generally, image maps should be used instead of slicing an image for links.

However, if an image is indeed sliced and any of the components of the sliced picture are the sole contents of links, then one image per link must have alternative text in its alt attribute representing the purpose of the link.

In the following example, a picture representing the flying spaghetti monster emblem, with each of the left noodly appendages and the right noodly appendages in different images, so that the user can pick the left side or the right side in an adventure.

<h1>The Church</h1>
<p>You come across a flying spaghetti monster. Which side of His
Noodliness do you wish to reach out for?</p>
<p><a href="?go=left" ><img src="fsm-left.png"  alt="Left side. "></a
  ><img src="fsm-middle.png" alt=""
  ><a href="?go=right"><img src="fsm-right.png" alt="Right side."></a></p>
4.8.1.1.10 A key part of the content

In some cases, the image is a critical part of the content. This could be the case, for instance, on a page that is part of a photo gallery. The image is the whole point of the page containing it.

How to provide alternative text for an image that is a key part of the content depends on the image's provenance.

The general case

When it is possible for detailed alternative text to be provided, for example if the image is part of a series of screenshots in a magazine review, or part of a comic strip, or is a photograph in a blog entry about that photograph, text that can serve as a substitute for the image must be given as the contents of the alt attribute.

A screenshot in a gallery of screenshots for a new OS, with some alternative text:

<figure>
 <img src="KDE%20Light%20desktop.png"
      alt="The desktop is blue, with icons along the left hand side in
           two columns, reading System, Home, K-Mail, etc. A window is
           open showing that menus wrap to a second line if they
           cannot fit in the window. The window has a list of icons
           along the top, with an address bar below it, a list of
           icons for tabs along the left edge, a status bar on the
           bottom, and two panes in the middle. The desktop has a bar
           at the bottom of the screen with a few buttons, a pager, a
           list of open applications, and a clock.">
 <figcaption>Screenshot of a KDE desktop.</figcaption>
</figure>

A graph in a financial report:

<img src="sales.gif"
     title="Sales graph"
     alt="From 1998 to 2005, sales increased by the following percentages
     with each year: 624%, 75%, 138%, 40%, 35%, 9%, 21%">

Note that "sales graph" would be inadequate alternative text for a sales graph. Text that would be a good caption is not generally suitable as replacement text.

Images that defy a complete description

In certain cases, the nature of the image might be such that providing thorough alternative text is impractical. For example, the image could be indistinct, or could be a complex fractal, or could be a detailed topographical map.

In these cases, the alt attribute must contain some suitable alternative text, but it may be somewhat brief.

Sometimes there simply is no text that can do justice to an image. For example, there is little that can be said to usefully describe a Rorschach inkblot test. However, a description, even if brief, is still better than nothing:

<figure>
 <img src="/commons/a/a7/Rorschach1.jpg" alt="A shape with left-right
 symmetry with indistinct edges, with a small gap in the center, two
 larger gaps offset slightly from the center, with two similar gaps
 under them. The outline is wider in the top half than the bottom
 half, with the sides extending upwards higher than the center, and
 the center extending below the sides.">
 <figcaption>A black outline of the first of the ten cards
 in the Rorschach inkblot test.</figcaption>
</figure>

Note that the following would be a very bad use of alternative text:

<!-- This example is wrong. Do not copy it. -->
<figure>
 <img src="/commons/a/a7/Rorschach1.jpg" alt="A black outline
 of the first of the ten cards in the Rorschach inkblot test.">
 <figcaption>A black outline of the first of the ten cards
 in the Rorschach inkblot test.</figcaption>
</figure>

Including the caption in the alternative text like this isn't useful because it effectively duplicates the caption for users who don't have images, taunting them twice yet not helping them any more than if they had only read or heard the caption once.

Another example of an image that defies full description is a fractal, which, by definition, is infinite in detail.

The following example shows one possible way of providing alternative text for the full view of an image of the Mandelbrot set.

<img src="ms1.jpeg" alt="The Mandelbrot set appears as a cardioid with
its cusp on the real axis in the positive direction, with a smaller
bulb aligned along the same center line, touching it in the negative
direction, and with these two shapes being surrounded by smaller bulbs
of various sizes.">
Images whose contents are not known

In some unfortunate cases, there might be no alternative text available at all, either because the image is obtained in some automated fashion without any associated alternative text (e.g. a Webcam), or because the page is being generated by a script using user-provided images where the user did not provide suitable or usable alternative text (e.g. photograph sharing sites), or because the author does not himself know what the images represent (e.g. a blind photographer sharing an image on his blog).

In such cases, the alt attribute may be omitted, but one of the following conditions must be met as well:

Such cases are to be kept to an absolute minimum. If there is even the slightest possibility of the author having the ability to provide real alternative text, then it would not be acceptable to omit the alt attribute.

A photo on a photo-sharing site, if the site received the image with no metadata other than the caption, could be marked up as follows:

<figure>
 <img src="1100670787_6a7c664aef.jpg">
 <figcaption>Bubbles traveled everywhere with us.</figcaption>
</figure>

It would be better, however, if a detailed description of the important parts of the image obtained from the user and included on the page.

A blind user's blog in which a photo taken by the user is shown. Initially, the user might not have any idea what the photo he took shows:

<article>
 <h1>I took a photo</h1>
 <p>I went out today and took a photo!</p>
 <figure>
  <img src="photo2.jpeg">
  <figcaption>A photograph taken blindly from my front porch.</figcaption>
 </figure>
</article>

Eventually though, the user might obtain a description of the image from his friends and could then include alternative text:

<article>
 <h1>I took a photo</h1>
 <p>I went out today and took a photo!</p>
 <figure>
  <img src="photo2.jpeg" alt="The photograph shows my squirrel
  feeder hanging from the edge of my roof. It is half full, but there
  are no squirrels around. In the background, out-of-focus trees fill the
  shot. The feeder is made of wood with a metal grate, and it contains
  peanuts. The edge of the roof is wooden too, and is painted white
  with light blue streaks.">
  <figcaption>A photograph taken blindly from my front porch.</figcaption>
 </figure>
</article>

Sometimes the entire point of the image is that a textual description is not available, and the user is to provide the description. For instance, the point of a CAPTCHA image is to see if the user can literally read the graphic. Here is one way to mark up a CAPTCHA (note the title attribute):

<p><label>What does this image say?
<img src="captcha.cgi?id=8934" title="CAPTCHA">
<input type=text name=captcha></label>
(If you cannot see the image, you can use an <a
href="?audio">audio</a> test instead.)</p>

Another example would be software that displays images and asks for alternative text precisely for the purpose of then writing a page with correct alternative text. Such a page could have a table of images, like this:

<table>
 <thead>
  <tr> <th> Image <th> Description
 <tbody>
  <tr>
   <td> <img src="2421.png" title="Image 640 by 100, filename 'banner.gif'">
   <td> <input name="alt2421">
  <tr>
   <td> <img src="2422.png" title="Image 200 by 480, filename 'ad3.gif'">
   <td> <input name="alt2422">
</table>

Notice that even in this example, as much useful information as possible is still included in the title attribute.

Since some users cannot use images at all (e.g. because they have a very slow connection, or because they are using a text-only browser, or because they are listening to the page being read out by a hands-free automobile voice Web browser, or simply because they are blind), the alt attribute is only allowed to be omitted rather than being provided with replacement text when no alternative text is available and none can be made available, as in the above examples. Lack of effort from the part of the author is not an acceptable reason for omitting the alt attribute.

4.8.1.1.11 An image not intended for the user

Generally authors should avoid using img elements for purposes other than showing images.

If an img element is being used for purposes other than showing an image, e.g. as part of a service to count page views, then the alt attribute must be the empty string.

In such cases, the width and height attributes should both be set to zero.

4.8.1.1.12 Guidance for markup generators

Markup generators (such as WYSIWYG authoring tools) should, wherever possible, obtain alternative text from their users. However, it is recognized that in many cases, this will not be possible.

For images that are the sole contents of links, markup generators should examine the link target to determine the title of the target, or the URL of the target, and use information obtained in this manner as the alternative text.

As a last resort, implementors should either set the alt attribute to the empty string, under the assumption that the image is a purely decorative image that doesn't add any information but is still specific to the surrounding content, or omit the alt attribute altogether, under the assumption that the image is a key part of the content.

Markup generators should generally avoid using the image's own file name as the alternative text. Similarly, markup generators should avoid generating alternative text from any content that will be equally available to presentation user agents (e.g. Web browsers).

This is because once a page is generated, it will typically not be updated, whereas the browsers that later read the page can be updated by the user, therefore the browser is likely to have more up-to-date and finely-tuned heuristics than the markup generator did when generating the page.

4.8.1.1.13 Guidance for conformance checkers

A conformance checker must report the lack of an alt attribute as an error unless one of the conditions listed below applies: