Long Description

Full description or summary of the content of an object such as a graphic, table, figure, or text box.


The long description is a non-visual element used by systems such as pronouncing screen readers to make the object accessible to people or systems that cannot read/see/display the object.

Long Description Contents: This element was originally designed to contain a description, but some newer systems expect this element to contain a URI that points to such a description. Best practice is to incorporate a textual description, including or ending with an untagged URI, and repeat the URI in the @xlink:href attribute so that a link can be made.

Accessibility: Please reserve this tag for accessibility uses such as pronouncing screen readers. The <long-desc> is not a visual element; rather, its purpose is to be spoken in circumstances where the visual form of the object cannot be viewed. This element differs from the <alt-text> element in both length and purpose. The <alt-text> is typically very short, for quick scan reading by a screen reader or showing as words behind a graphic. The <long-desc> is meant for an extended description of an object such as a figure, table, graphic, etc., for example, a textual summary of a pie chart that explains both the visual form of the chart and significance of its findings.

Best Practice: The <long-desc> element should not to be used as a replacement for <caption>, which is a visual element typically displayed alongside a figure, table, etc. Thus <long-desc> should not be used to hold supplementary data. The <long-desc> is not a visual element.


content-type Type of Content
id Identifier
specific-use Specific Use
xlink:actuate Actuating the Link
xlink:href Href (Linking Mechanism)
xlink:role Role of the Link
xlink:show Showing the Link
xlink:title Title of the Link
xlink:type Type of Link
xmlns:xlink XLink Namespace Declaration
xml:lang Language

Related Elements

The similar non-visual element <alt-text> typically contains a very short phrase. The element <long-desc> either contains or points to an extended description.

Content Model

<!ELEMENT  long-desc    (#PCDATA %long-desc-elements;)*              >

Expanded Content Model

(#PCDATA | x)*


Any combination of:

This element may be contained in:

<array>, <chem-struct>, <chem-struct-wrap>, <disp-formula>, <disp-formula-group>, <fig>, <fig-group>, <graphic>, <inline-supplementary-material>, <media>, <preformat>, <supplementary-material>, <table-wrap>, <table-wrap-group>


<title>The Size/Price Paradox</title>
<long-desc>Table is a price comparison of some
unknown objects that are identified only by
color as Red and Green. The price of small,
medium, and large objects is given for each
color, with Green objects getting cheaper with
increasing size, from $3.25 for small to $2.25
for medium to $1.15 for large. In contrast, Red
objects get more expensive with size, with small
costing $3.25, medium for $5.25, and large for $9.95.
<table rules="rows">
<td rowspan="3">Green</td>


<td rowspan="3">Red</td>