The Web Design Group

IMG - Inline Image

Syntax <IMG>
Attribute Specifications
  • SRC=URI (location of image)
  • ALT=Text (alternate text)
  • LONGDESC=URI (link to long description)
  • WIDTH=Length (image width)
  • HEIGHT=Length (image height)
  • USEMAP=URI (client-side image map)
  • ISMAP (server-side image map)
  • ALIGN=top|middle|bottom|left|right (image alignment)
  • BORDER=Pixels (link border width)
  • HSPACE=Pixels (horizontal gutter)
  • VSPACE=Pixels (vertical gutter)
  • NAME=CDATA (name for client-side scripting)
  • common attributes
Contents Empty
Contained in Inline elements, block-level elements except PRE

The IMG element specifies an inline image. The required SRC attribute specifies the location of the image. The image can be any format, though browsers generally only support GIF, JPEG, and PNG images.

The required ALT attribute provides alternate text for those not loading images. Effective ALT text should generally give the function of the image rather than a description of the image. For example, ALT="Welcome to XYZ Corp." would be more appropriate than ALT="XYZ Corp. Logo" for a company's logo on its welcome page. Good ALT text is crucial to the document's accessibility for users who do not load images; see Use of ALT texts in IMGs for a thorough discussion.

The LONGDESC attribute gives the location of a long description of the image. This attribute should be used to provide a long description of an image where this would be useful. For example, a painting, graph, or corporate logo could be given a description so that blind and other text-only users can develop a mental picture of the image.

The WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes are most useful when they specify the exact dimensions of the image in pixels. This allows image-loading browsers to reserve the proper amount of space for the image and continue to render the rest of the document, thus giving the appearance of a faster-loading page.

Unfortunately, many graphical browsers will use these dimensions when not loading images, which can cause the ALT text to be cut off if the image is small or the ALT text is large. In such cases, authors may wish to leave off the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes, depending on the importance of the ALT text and the placement of the image on the page (an image towards the end of the document without WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes will generally not noticeably slow the rendering of the page).

Authors can also specify different dimensions for the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes, in which case browsers should scale the image. Percentages, relative to the horizontal or vertical space available (not relative to the image's natural size) can also be specified, though these are not as widely supported as pixel lengths. Since browsers typically do a poor job of scaling images, authors should avoid using WIDTH and HEIGHT for this purpose as much as possible.

The ALIGN attribute, deprecated in HTML 4, specifies the alignment of the image. The values top, middle, and bottom specify the image's position with respect to surrounding content on its left and right.

ALIGN=middle aligns the vertical center of the image with the current baseline. To center the image horizontally on the page, place the image in a centered block, e.g.,

<H1 ALIGN=center><IMG SRC="logo.gif" ALT="Welcome to XYZ Company"></H1>

The other ALIGN values, left and right, specify a floating image; the image is placed at the left or right margin and content flows around it. To place content below the image, use <BR CLEAR=left|right|all> as appropriate.

The vertical-align and float properties of Cascading Style Sheets provide more flexible methods of aligning images.

The BORDER attribute, deprecated in HTML 4, specifies the width in pixels of the image's border. Specifying BORDER=0 will eliminate the border around a linked image in most browsers. Authors should only use BORDER=0 if the image would be clearly recognizable as a link, or as a method of de-emphasizing a link. For example:

<A HREF="reference/"><IMG SRC="icon/reference.gif" ALT="" WIDTH=90 HEIGHT=90 BORDER=0>Web Authoring Reference</A>

The deprecated HSPACE and VSPACE attributes allow an author to suggest horizontal gutters and vertical gutters, respectively, around the image. The value must be in pixels and applies to both sides of the image. Style sheets provide more flexibility in specifying the space around images.

The USEMAP attribute is used with client-side image maps to give the location of the map definition. While this value may be a full URI--allowing a single map definition to be applied to multiple pages--many browsers will only find map definitions in the same file, effectively limiting the USEMAP value to a fragment identifier such as "#map".

The ISMAP attribute is used with server-side image maps. When the ISMAP attribute is included with a linked image and the user clicks the image, the image coordinates clicked are sent to the server, from which a location can be returned. The method of handling the coordinates is server-dependent, but the NCSA server's method is most common.

Client-side image maps are generally preferred since they are more accessible to users who do not have a mouse or other pointer. Both kinds of image map may be used together, in which case browsers that support client-side image maps will use that method. An example follows:

<A HREF="/cgi-bin/imagemap/"><IMG SRC="sitemap.gif" ALT="Site Map" ISMAP USEMAP="#map" WIDTH=100 HEIGHT=100></A>

A MAP element named map would have to be included in the same document.

The NAME attribute, added to IMG in HTML 4.01, specifies a name for referring to the image from a client-side script. The ID attribute provides the same functionality, but old browsers such as Netscape 4.x only support the NAME attribute.

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