Who Should Create Image Descriptions?

This resource discusses the options you might have for image description creators/authors. There are many different people that can potentially do this work, and deciding on a person or group is an important step!

  • Subject(s):

    Image Descriptions, Strategic Planning

  • Resource Type(s):

    Standards and Best Practices

  • Audience:


Suggested Prerequisite

Before reading this, you might want to read:

Who Should Create Image Descriptions?

There is no question that writing image descriptions can be time-consuming, and depending on the complexity of the image, can even be challenging. The question of who should create and write image descriptions is an important one, and there are a few options.

If you outsource your ebook production to a conversion house or independent ebook developer, they may offer image description services for an added fee, ranging from around $2.00 to $30.00 per image depending on the images and the level of detail required. Another option is to incorporate the work into your production process by having interns, copyeditors, or others who work with the book, write the image descriptions. Another option used by some conversion houses and publishers is to outsource to subject matter specialists, especially when the images display complex or technical concepts.

The Importance of Understanding the Context: Requesting Image Descriptions from Authors

The person in the best position to describe the content accurately is often none other than the content creators themselves. The author is the one who is closest to the content, and they know what they intend to convey through the use of a particular image. When you have conversations with your authors, be sure to talk about images, and let them know that for ebooks to be accessible to everyone they need to have accurate and meaningful image descriptions – which the author is best positioned to write and provide. Just as they likely would not want to give complete control to an editor on a paragraph, they will surely want to ensure that the description of their images convey their intended meaning. Having authors write the image descriptions also ensures that they can be built into your workflow from the start. While the descriptions may have to be copyedited, it will take less time than it would for someone unfamiliar with the content to describe an image from scratch.

While some authors may be hesitant to provide image descriptions, we have seen that some are more open to the idea when they learn that it means that their books will be more accessible. The more accessible a book is, the more likely it is to be understood and enjoyed by the widest possible audience.

Next Steps


Writing Image Descriptions

Best Practices for Writing Image Descriptions

This Best Practices document reviews key guidelines to writing image descriptions. Whether you are a publisher, freelancer, author, or anyone else, this document will help you make decisions about how and what to describe.

Subject(s): Image Descriptions
Resource Type(s): Standards and Best Practices

Reviewing Image Descriptions

Guide for Reviewing Image Descriptions

This guide shares a short checklist of items to review when reading or editing image descriptions. Whether you wrote them yourself, or someone else wrote them, this guide will help ensure the quality of descriptions.

Subject(s): Digital Marketing, Ebook Production, Image Descriptions, Website Accessibility
Resource Type(s): Checklist, Standards and Best Practices

Writing Descriptions for Digital Media

Introduction to Writing Alt-text for Digital Media (other than ebooks)

Images used on websites, social media, and other non-book content need image descriptions. The writing guidelines are mostly the same, but there are a few additional things to consider. This Introduction document looks at these,…

Subject(s): Digital Marketing, Image Descriptions
Resource Type(s): Checklist

External Links to More Information

Guide to Image Descriptions

A thorough introduction to image descriptions; it discusses: the importance of image descriptions, workflow considerations, and terminology; it also provides some technical guidance and code samples, and of course provides detailed image description guidelines, with examples!

Image Description: Advice From the Front Lines

This article shares how different publishers are taking on image description. Four different publishers, which are of various sizes and publish different genres, discuss their approaches, from in-house, to out-sourcing, and more.

Content Source Acknowledgement

AccessiblePublishing.ca: Guide to Image Descriptions