Jan 252013
 

There are a variety of ways of adding alternate text to your InDesign source files.

  • Importing a graphic into InDesign with alternate text already added
  • Adding alternate text to an imported graphic by adding an Alt or ActualText attribute to an item in the Structure pane
  • Starting with InDesign CS5.5, adding alternate text to a graphic frame, text frame, or a group using Object Export Options

 

Importing graphics containing alternate text

Graphics can be created in a variety of programs, many of which allow you to add XMP metadata about the graphic. Similarly, many image editing programs also allow you to enter XMP metadata to the image or edit metadata that has already been added such as data added by digital cameras. When graphics and images are imported into InDesign, their metadata is retained and is available to be used as Alt or ActualText attributes when the InDesign document is exported as a tagged PDF. How the XMP metadata is accessed is discussed under the section below concerning using Object Export Options.

Additionally, MS Word allows you to add alternate text to graphics which in turn can be imported into InDesign and used as an Alt attributed when exported as a tagged PDF.

When imported into InDesign as a linked file, certain files can be opened in Adobe Bridge which can be used to add or edit XMP metadata. If linked files are updated in Adobe Bridge, InDesign will indicate that the linked file should be updated.

Adding alternate text to elements in the Structure pane

When working with elements in the Structure pane, you can add or edit Alt or ActualText attributes. Elements are items in a document that have been marked with XML tags.

If you haven’t worked with the Structure pane before, you open the pane by selecting Structure > Show Structure from the View menu. If you have not added elements to the Structure, all that will show in the Structure pane is Root element. Add items to the Structure by selecting Add Untagged Items from the Structure pane menu. To add an attribute to an item, select the item, then either click the Add An Attribute button, choose New Attribute from the Structure pane menu, or right-click the selected element and choose New Attribute.

When the attribute dialog opens, specify a name (either Alt or ActualText) and a value, the alternate text. Note that the name is case sensitive. The attribute will be exported as alternate text when you create a tagged PDF from the InDesign source file.

Adding alternate text using Object Export Options

Starting with InDesign CS5.5, Adobe has added an alternative to adding alternate text in the Structure pane. You can now add alternate text to graphic and text frames in the document by selecting the frame and opening the Object Export Options dialog from the Object menu.

With the Object Export Options dialog open, you are presented with the following options:

Alt-Text options

  • Custom – Enter the alternative text manually
  • From Structure – Uses text specified as an attribute in the structure
  • From XMP – Uses data stored in the file as XMP metadata in one of 3 locations that you specify: Title, Description, or Headline
  • From Other XMP – Uses data stored in some other XMP metadata field which you specify with the namespace and property name.

Tagged PDF Options

Apply Tag

  • From Structure – Uses tag specified in the structure
  • Artifact – Use for graphic elements that you do not want read by a screen reader
  • Based on Object – Automatically determines whether the tag should be either “Story” or “Figure.”

Actual Text Source

  • Custom – Enter text manually
  • From Structure – Uses text specified as an attribute in the structure
  • From XMP – Uses data stored in the file as XMP metadata in one of 3 locations that you specify: Title, Description, or Headline
  • From Other XMP – Uses data stored in some other XMP metadata field which you specify with the namespace and property name.

 EPUB and HTML Options

Used for EPUB and HTML conversion settings and does not apply to PDFs.