Image Attribute Guidelines
Effective web images have three attributes: Title, Caption and Alternate Text. Knowing what to use for each can be frustrating, however, so some basic guidelines follow, plus a note about Usage Rights.
Effective image content is posted with a specific purpose in mind, rather than simply added for 'variety' or 'color'.
In our CMS, the title is sometimes visible (Gallery Images) and other times not (Slideshow Images). In either case, however, titles should be kept as brief as possible.
USM Nursing Students
Thermal Image of Retina
Filenames should be avoided
Dr. Hanlon at Muskie School Annual Forum
Captions should not be literal descriptions of the image. Instead, they should connect the image to the page or site it resides on, by providing context to the site's goals, events or other desired information. A key exception to this is in instances where specific descriptions may enhance the message.
Graduates of USM's Certificate of Advance Study in Nursing have a 98% job placement rate. Click for more info.
Nursing students smiling
Literal description adds nothing to message
Biology majors at USM have access to the latest research technology, like the FLIR SC7900 VL thermal imaging camera used to capture this image of the human eye.
Thermal camera image of human eye
Lacks engaging, impactful detail
Dr. Roger Hanlon, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, fields questions at the Muskie School of Public Service's annual Forum For Health Care Leaders. Click for more info and other events.
Presenter fields questions during recent Muskie School event
Presenter's specific information enhances message
Captions are not always available (Gallery Images), but areas for description are present and can serve much the same purpose.
The Alternate Text (or 'alt text') attribute is used by screen readers, search engines and when the image cannot be loaded. Alt text is intended to represent the image for non-visual situations, so it should be a literal (but brief) description of the image.
USM Nursing students in the classroom
USM Nursing students are prepared for the work place
Does not actually describe the image
Thermal image of human eye taken at USM with FLIR SC7900 VL camera
Eye under microscope
Dr. Hanlon fields questions at Muskie School Forum For Health Care Leaders.
Dr. Roger Hanlon fields questions following his Keynote presentation at the Muskie School of Public Service's annual Forum For Health Care Leaders. Click for more events.
Repeats information already present in caption.
The alt text attribute is sometimes only visible AFTER a file has been uploaded.
Always remember to use only images that you have permission to use.
When in doubt, ask.