How to use alternative text on Instagram

Jina Marwood Jina Marwood
September 17, 2020

Social media hasn’t always been accessible to a wider audience. But did you know that you can edit your Instagram posts to help the visually impaired understand your content? 

By utilizing the “alternative text” (or, “alt text”) feature, what you write is read by screen-reading applications used by people who are visually impaired. The text you write is meant to be a description of the photo (different from the caption) and is not visible on the page. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to write and incorporate alt text to your Instagram posts.

How to add alternative texts to your post

  1. Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
  2. Choose a filter and edit the image, then tap Next.
  3. Tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap Write Alt Text.
  5. Write your alt text in the box and hit save or done. 

If you’ve posted a photo and would like to add alternative text to your already-published content, here are the proper steps to follow: 

  1. Go to the photo and tap. 
  2. Tap Edit.
  3. Tap Edit Alt Text in the bottom right.
  4. Write the alt text in the box and hit save or done. 

Writing alternative text

Keep in mind that this description will only be read if someone is using a screen reader to access Instagram. A great tip on how to write alternative text was given by Perkins School for the Blind:

“Imagine someone is sitting next to you as you scroll through Instagram and they point at a photo and ask what it is. Chances are, you’ll give them a one or two sentence description that is perfect for writing as alt text.”

Because Instagram only allows up to 100 characters, the key is to keep the messaging short, concise, and to the point. Ensure that you also add any quotes in alternative text that are written on the image itself. 

Incorporating alternative text into your publishing schedule is an important habit to start getting into. Not only does it help Instagram get a better idea about your content, but it also ensures that your users don’t miss out on your posts because of inaccessibility. 

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