Excel Accessibility: Illustrations & Charts

Images (including Pictures, Charts, etc.) are found in the Illustrations area of the Insert tab.

Pictures may be added in Excel, and it’s possible to add alt text to them. However, it’s best to avoid using pictures as they may create reading order issues.


The Chart option is located in the Illustrations area of the Insert tab. Contents of charts and graphs should be clear and labeled.

To add a chart, go to Insert > Charts > Choose the type of chart that best represents the data:

Excel 2016 Insert tab highlighting the Charts area and Insert Chart dialog box

Once you’ve added a Chart, you’ll be able to see the Chart Tools tabs for Design and Format. (These contextual ribbon tabs are only visible when you click on an inserted Chart.)

Excel 2016 Chart Tools Design and Format tabs

Data Labels

Once you’ve inserted your Chart, add Data Labels. There are several ways to add Data Labels. The Add Chart Element option is available in the Chart Tools Design ribbon tab.

Excel 2016 Chart Tools Design tab with Add Chart Element option expanded to show Data Labels options

Also, if you click on your chart, several icons will appear, such as the Chart Area icon (which looks like a plus sign).


Click on the Chart Area icon to add data labels. If you go to More Options, you’ll access the Format Data Labels pane.

Excel 2016 Chart Area icon expanded to show Data Labels options

(Alternately, right click on an item in the chart > Format Data Labels > Make your adjustments using the Format Data Labels pane.)


Once the data labels have been added, you can adjust the size, if needed, the way you would adjust the size of fonts in text. Depending on the type of data your chart illustrates, you may want additional label options. For example, it may be useful to show the Category Name, Value and Percentage. It just depends on the nature of your data and the purpose of your chart.

Provide the data in a tabular format (i.e. use the table that you used to create the chart). This benefits everyone because if you need to edit or copy the data later, tabular data is easier to edit.

Alt Text

Since Charts in Excel don’t have a place to add alt text for screen readers, you may add a description in the cell where the chart is located. Once you’ve typed the description, you may hide it visually by matching the text and background color (e.g. white text on white background).

Join us next week for some tips on adding hyperlinks.


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