Skip to main content
Skip table of contents

How to add alternative text for an image in Tagged PDF?

I know that iText can generate tagged PDF documents from scratch, but is it possible to insert alternative text for images in an existing tagged PDF without changing anything else?

I need to implement this feature in a program without using GUI applications such as Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Posted on StackOverflow on Dec 2, 2015 by tsforsure

Please take a look at the AddAltTags example.

In this example, we take a PDF with images of a fox and a dog where the Alt keys are missing: no_alt_attribute.pdf

Structure element without /Alt key

Code can't recognize a fox or a dog, so we create a new document with Alt attributes saying "Figure without an Alt description": added_alt_attributes.pdf)

Structure element with /Alt key

We add this description by walking through the structure tree, looking for structural elements marked as /Figure elements:

public void manipulatePdf(String src, String dest)
    throws IOException, DocumentException {
    PdfReader reader = new PdfReader(src);
    PdfDictionary catalog = reader.getCatalog();
    PdfDictionary structTreeRoot =
    PdfStamper stamper = new PdfStamper(
        reader, new FileOutputStream(dest));

public void manipulate(PdfDictionary element) {
    if (element == null)
    if (PdfName.FIGURE.equals(element.get(PdfName.S))) {
            new PdfString("Figure without an Alt description"));
    PdfArray kids = element.getAsArray(PdfName.K);
    if (kids == null) return;
    for (int i = 0; i 

You can easily port this Java example to C#:

  • Get the root dictionary from the PdfReader object,

  • Get the root of the structure tree (a dictionary),

  • Loop over all the kids of every branch of that tree,

  • When a lead is a figure, add an /Alt entry.

Once this is done, use PdfStamper to save the altered file.

JavaScript errors detected

Please note, these errors can depend on your browser setup.

If this problem persists, please contact our support.