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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@[63.193.119.97]>
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.
Therefore:

   * 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.


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

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