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Answers

For anchors, you should use title instead. alt is not valid atribute of a. See http://w3schools.com/tags/tag_a.asp

Such things are best answered by looking at the official specification.

  1. go to the specification: http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/
  2. search for “a element”: http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/text-level-semantics.html#the-a-element
  3. check “Content attributes”:

    Global attributes
    href
    target
    rel
    media
    hreflang
    type

  4. check “Global attributes” for alt: http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/dom.html#global-attributes

As you will see, the
alt attribute is not allowed on the
a element.

Also you’d notice that the src attribute isn’t allowed either.

By validating your HTML errors like these are reported to you.

No, an alt attribute (it would be an attribute, not a tag) is not allowed for an a element in any HTML specification or draft. And it does not seem to be recognized by any browser either as having any significance.

It’s a bit mystery why people try to use it, then, but the probable explanation is that they are doing so in analog with alt attribute for img elements, expecting to see a “tooltip” on mouseover. There are two things wrong with this. First, each element has attributes of its own, defined in the specs for each element. Second, the “tooltip” rendering of alt attributes in some ancient browsers is/was a quirk or even a bug, rather than something to be expected; the alt attribute is supposed to be presented to the user if and only if the image itself is not presented, for whatever reason.

To create a “tooltip”, use the title attribute instead or, much better, Google for “CSS tooltips” and use CSS-based tooltips of your preference (they can be characterized as hidden “layers” that become visible on mouseover).

You should use the title attribute for anchor tags if you wish to apply descriptive information similarly as you would for an alt attribute. The title attribute is valid on anchor tags and is serves no other purpose than providing information about the linked page.

W3C recommends that the value of the title attribute should match the value of the title of the linked document but it’s not mandatory.

http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/1995-archive/Elements/A.html


Alternatively, and likely to be more beneficial, you can use the ARIA accessibility attribute aria-label (not to be confused with aria-labeledby). aria-label serves the same function as the alt attribute does for images but for non-image elements and includes some measure of optimization since your optimizing for screen readers.

http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/wiki/Using_aria-label_to_provide_labels_for_objects


If you want to describe an anchor tag though, it’s usually appropriate to use the rel or rev tag but your limited to specific values, they should not be used for human readable descriptions.

Rel serves to describe the relationship of the linked page to the current page. (e.g. if the linked page is next in a logical series it would be rel=next)

The rev attribute is essentially the reverse relationship of the rel attribute. Rev describes the relationship of the current page to the linked page.

You can find a list of valid values here: http://microformats.org/wiki/existing-rel-values

“title” is widely implemented in browsers. Try:

<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="#" title="hello">asf</a>

I used title and it worked!

The title attribute gives the title of the link. With one exception, it is purely advisory. The value is text. The exception is for style sheet links, where the title attribute defines alternative style sheet sets.

<a class="navbar-brand" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.alberghierocastelnuovocilento.gov.it/sito/index.php" title="sito dell'Istituto Ancel Keys">A.K.</a>