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Re: Alt attribute for unimportant images

From: Walter Ian Kaye <walter@natural-innovations.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 19:52:22 -0700
Message-Id: <v04220815b59189d457b7@[]>
To: www-html@w3.org
At 08:53p +0200 07/11/2000, Jan Roland Eriksson didst inscribe upon 
an electronic papyrus:
>On Tue, 11 Jul 2000 14:40:16 -0400, Alf Inge Myhre Tunheim
><tunheim@operamail.com> wrote:
>  >Are there any guidelines about what text string (if any) that should be
>  >specified in the alt attribute of images that only have a visual design
>  >purpose?
>Yes, it's right there in the HTML4.01 specification...
>Section "13.8 How to specify alternate text" has this...
>   "Do not specify irrelevant alternate text when including
>    images intended to format a page, for instance, alt="red ball"
>    would be inappropriate for an image that adds a red ball for
>    decorating a heading or paragraph. In such cases, the alternate
>    text should be the empty string (""). Authors are in any case
>    advised to avoid using images to format pages; style sheets
>    should be used instead.
>So the answer to your question would be  ALT=""

I *strongly* DISagree, for the following reasons:

   * MSIE displays "(Image)" instead of "" (when image loading is off)
   * Lynx does not show <A HREF><IMG ALT=""></A> links
   * Old versions of Lynx display "[IMAGE]" instead of ""

If you use ALT=" " then these problems go away.

   * Important images get captions for ALT
   * Images with links get captions with a leading & trailing space
     (so that consecutive ones don't run together)
   * Images used for bullets get "* "
   * Purely decorative images get " "

Do not EVER put ALT="Loading..." or anything similarly presumptuous.
Always include WIDTH= and HEIGHT= attributes, even for tiny images.

These are the rules I live by, as they provide the best user experience
regardless of browser.

  who cares about everyone on earth, no matter what browser or financial state
Received on Tuesday, 11 July 2000 22:53:26 UTC

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