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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. 

Remember

Effective image content is posted with a specific purpose in mind, rather than simply added for 'variety' or 'color'.

Titles

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.

Image

More Effective

Less Effective

Reason

A

USM Nursing Students

Nursing Program

Too vague

B

Thermal Image of Retina

ThermalRetina.jpg

Filenames should be avoided

C

Dr. Hanlon at Muskie School Annual Forum

Dr. Hanlon

Too vague

Captions

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.

Image

More Effective

Less Effective

Reason

A

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

B

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

C

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.

Alternate Text

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.

Image

More Effective

Less Effective

Reason

A

USM Nursing students in the classroom

USM Nursing students are prepared for the work place

Does not actually describe the image

B

Thermal image of human eye taken at USM with FLIR SC7900 VL camera

Eye under microscope

Too vague

C

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.

Usage Rights

Always remember to use only images that you have permission to use.

Image Bank

Marketing has created a collection of already approved images ready to use which are pre-sized for Slideshow Images.

When in doubt, ask.

Sample Images

Image A

USM nursing graduate Emily Martin at work

Image B

Thermal image of human eye taken at USM with FLIR SC7900 VL camera

Image C


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