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Microsoft Word for Dissertations

Describes many of the special features of Microsoft Word you can use to make formatting your dissertation easier. While it's focused on dissertations, this information is useful for any long document.

Adding and Describing Captions, Figures, Footnotes, etc...

Learn the different ways to insert various non-text objects in your dissertation

*Please see the drop down from the Insertions tab for details on the above or click the links to visit individual pages


Describing Images/Figures

It is important to ensure that all readers are able to access your work. This includes readers who cannot access the visuals due to visual impairment or disability, and other readers who may benefit from your expert interpretation of the image.  We encourage you to describe visual elements (such as figures, graphs, images) using a combination of the body text, caption, and alternative text (alt text). Textual description of each image ensures that all readers can understand the content and purpose of that image.

Alt Text

You've likely discussed each visual element in the body text and captions of your dissertation, but we encourage you also to provide an Alt text description. It is not necessary to repeat all the same information in the body text, caption, and Alt Text. Rather, those three elements should work together to provide an effective description of each image. Alt text is usually a sentence or two, and it should succinctly describe the visual information while also providing context on the information’s relevance. A graph, for example, should be described both visually and the trend it demonstrates in its context. Ideally, alt text should not repeat information found in a caption.

To add alt text to a visual element, right-click on it and select Alt Text...   In the window that appears you can add your descriptive text. For information about writing effective alt text, see