User Tools

Complex Image Descriptions

The Complex Image Descriptions section goes near the end of the book, and it is where you place your complex descriptions.

We create longer, complex descriptions for images of maps, graphs, and charts. We can also create longer, complex descriptions when we need to transcribe an image, such as an image of a letter. If you are not sure if your image requires a complex description, ask in the Q&A Section.

For images that require more complex or extended descriptions we create two descriptions:

  1. Standard Alt-Text in Alt-Text Description Box (max 120 characters)
  2. Long Description in the Complex Image Descriptions Section that links back to the image being described.
You must include a shorter image description in the Alt-text box that compliments the longer description. Remember, all images must have Alt-text.
Include a line in the Alt-text referencing the complex description. For example, if the image is transcribed letter or dialogue add a note in the shorter alt-text that the transcription is in the complex description.

Creating Section: Headings, Bookmarks and Hyperlinks

Section title is Complex Image Descriptions. Apply Heading Style 1 to heading. Place the section in the back matter of the book before the Terms of Use section.

Setting Up Headings and Text

You need to set up your headings and the text before you can create the internal navigation.

For the Image:

  • Locate the image in the text that requires a complex description
  • Below the Image and Caption enter the text: Follow this link for an extended description at the end of the book.
  • Style as Normal
Do not create a heading for the image. Images do not require additional headings

Example Caption text

Follow this link for an extended description at the end of the book.

Body text of book.

For the Complex Image Description:

  • Locate the Complex Image Descriptions section
  • Create a subheading section in Heading 2 style
  • Title the section Description of ___
    • e.g. Description of Map for Number of Cars Registered in 1912
  • Enter your complex description in this section. See below for writing tips.
  • At the end of the description enter the text: Navigate back to image.
  • Style as Normal


Complex Image Descriptions [heading 1]

Below you will find the complex descriptions for images in the text. [Normal]

Description of Map for Number of Cars Registered in 1912 [heading 2]

Map depicting vehicle ownership in Southern Manitoba. The title of the map reads: Number of Cars Registered in 1912. There is a legend that shows red circles of increasing size with a white car icon in the center of the circle. Each circle represents a number of cars. The smallest circle is 1-5, then next size up is 6-10, then 11-25, then 26-100, then 101-1000 then 1001-2025.

The map shows Manitoba with all the major cities and towns labelled with a variety of different sized red circles, mainly over the southern part of the province. The main areas are highlighted as follows: Winnipeg, represented by the circle for 1001-2025 cars, and Brandon, represented by the circle for 101-1000 cars, have the largest circles. Dauphin, Virden, Neepawa, Carberry, Portage La Prairie are represented by the circle for 26-100 cars. Russell, Minnedosa, Gladstone, Souris, Deloraine, Boissevain, Crystal City, Morden, and Winkler are represented by the circle for 6-10 cars. [Normal]

Navigate back to image.[Normal]

Here is a quick tutorial of how to do this.

Now that you have set up the Headings and text you are ready to create the navigation for this section by using the Bookmark and Internal Links features.

First you will need to create your link to the description section.

  • Locate the image for the complex description
  • Highlight the phraseFollow the link for an extended description at the end of the book.
  • Right click to open the popup menu
  • Select Hyperlink
  • This will open a popup window Insert Hyperlink
  • Select the This Document tab
  • Open up the drop menu for Headings
  • Open up the drop menu for Complex Image Descriptions and select the sub-heading for the complex description to link to.
    • Example: Headings>Complex Link Descriptions> Description of Map for Number of Cars Registered in 1912

This will create your link from the image to the correct description sub-heading in the Complex Image Descriptions section.

Next you will need to set up the return link.

First insert a bookmark as an anchor for the return link.

For the Return Link Bookmark:

  • Locate the image for your complex description
  • Highlight the image
  • Go to the Insert Menu
  • Locate the Links Section
  • Select Bookmark
  • A popup window will appear
    • In the Bookmark name field enter an identifying name for the image, so you know what image goes with what description.
    • NOTE: It must have no spaces
      • Example: ReturntoMapManitobaVehicles
    • Select Add
  • You now have a bookmark for your return link!
You must insert the bookmark before you insert the return hyperlink or it will not work.
Make sure to give each bookmark a unique and identifiable name. This will help you keep track if you have multiple bookmarks in a single etext.

If you have any questions ask in the Q and A section.

Now that you have created your bookmark, you are ready to create your return to image link.

For the Return to Image Link:

  • Locate the description in Complex Image Descriptions
  • Highlight the phrase "Navigate back to image."
  • Right click to open the popup menu
  • Select Highlight
  • This will open a popup window Insert Highlight
  • Select the This Document tab
  • Under Bookmarks open the dropdown menu and select the bookmark you created for the return to image
    • Example: select "MapofManitobaRoadMap"

Here is a quick tutorial showing you how to do this.

You can set your bookmarks to be visible to help you keep track of where they are in your document.

For Window's PC: Open the Options Dialogue box through File>Options and select the Advanced section. Scroll down to Show Document Content section and make sure Bookmarks is selected. Click OK. You will now see a square bracket beside the location of your bookmark.

For Mac: Open the Words Preferences box through Word>Preferences and select View. Make sure Bookmarks is selected. Close the window. You will now see a square bracket beside the location of your bookmark.

If you ever find you made a mistake and need to delete a bookmark do the following:

  • Locate the bookmark you need to delete
  • Place your cursor in the etext
  • Go to the Insert Menu
  • Locate the Links Section
  • Select Bookmark
  • A popup window will appear
  • Click and highlight the bookmark you with to delete
  • Select Delete

Writing Complex Descriptions

The complex descriptions must also follow the standard Alt-text guidelines (though it will be longer that 120 words).

  • Use as few words as possible. Be clear and precise.
  • Focus on the data and not on extraneous visual elements.
  • NOTE: If the visual elements are important to understanding the image then describe them. If unsure, ask!
  • The reader should be able to understand the description in one reading.
  • Start with a brief description, followed by more specific information. This allows the reader to get the initial concept and read further if desired.
  • Some content is better converted to tables than being provided in a narrative description.
  • Some content presented visually can be converted to nested lists.


  • Include the Name/Title of the Map and a Description of the Legend
  • It is not necessary to describe types of lines/colour-coding and images when this information can be described using the information the legend conveys.
  • Aim for clarity, even if detail is sacrificed. Focus on the information that is relevant in the greater context of the book.
  • Ask yourself: What is this Map telling the reader? Only describe what is necessary to convey the intended meaning of the map. This will vary.

More tips on writing text descriptions for maps.

See examples on Samples of Alt Text


  • Describe only the visual features that convey this meaning.
  • Describe the layout of the graph before describing specific data (i.e. "A Bar Chart of …")
  • Provide the most relevant information first, like what is being measured on the X and Y axes.
  • Make sure what you are describing is relevant to the image. Do not simply repeat the titles and labels without providing information about what the graph portrays.
  • For units, use the full word instead of short forms (ex. Use “seconds” instead of “s”) and ensure the unit is described consistently throughout the description.

For examples see Alt-Text Samples.

More info on writing extended or long descriptions:

public/nnels/etext/complex-image-description.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/29 15:28 by rachel.osolen