Picture Guidelines: Metadata

Metadata on a picture may be very important for the picture’s usefulness to the reader, as well as its findability for Google.

Filenames

An image’s filename is extremely important, and should be constructed in the following way, in order:

  • A place (For instance Geirangerfjord)
  • An activity (For instance Hiking)
  • Country (For instance Norway)
  • Picture width (For instance 740)

In addition, always follow these two rules:

  • Never use underscore (_) or space as word-divider in filenames. Use dash (-) instead.
  • Never use æøå!? or space in filenames.

Google will read dash (-) as a word divider, and will thus enable searches on every word in the filename, whereas underscore (_) will not be read at all, making the entire filename effectively one word in Google’s «eyes», which is highly unlikely to be searched for.

The example above will thus give this as the optimal filename:

Geirangerfjord-Hiking-Norway-740.jpg


Description in ImageVault

A good description should:

Also, keep in mind that images may be re-used in other contexts later.


Captions

Captions have their own set of guidelines, found here, in the section on «Writing articles – Captions».


Alt-text

Alt-texts are intended for use when the pictures cannot be seen.

Describe a picture to a blind person.
What you say is a good start for an alt-text.

Some tips for writing good alt-texts:

  • Describe the essential picture to someone who cannot see it.
  • A good alt-text should be brief, targeted and descriptive.
  • Remember that context is important: What makes this picture important in this context?
  • Distill the description of the picture down to essentials.

For example:
In an article about how the Danish flag is the oldest national symbol still in use, describing the flag pole, the line and the sky behind the flag is unimportant. What is essential in this context is how the flag looks, and whether the flag is shown as a photograph, an illustration or another graphical interpretations does not matter:

The same alt-text could be used, regardless:

«A red flag divided into four by a white cross, slightly offset to the left».