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A summary of a line graph

Learn how to describe a line graph.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.

Reading text

The graph below shows how people buy music. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

The graph illustrates trends in music buying habits between 2011 and 2018. It presents three different methods: streaming, downloading and buying CDs.

Overall, both downloads and physical sales of music have steadily declined. The latter has slumped since 2011, while the downturn for the former began in 2014. However, there has been a sharp rise in people streaming music since 2013.

In 2011, the majority of music sales were of CDs, at 55% of all sales. In contrast, streaming was not common at all at only 5%. Also, although people had started to download music, it only represented 35% of sales. As sales of CDs began to fall, downloads started to rise. They rose steadily and downloads overtook physical sales in mid-2013. During the same period, streaming doubled to 10% but then it started to grow more dramatically.

Downloads peaked in 2014 at about 43% of sales but fell to 30% by 2018. This was slightly higher than physical sales, which shrank to 25%. Streaming, on the other hand, overtook both of them and accounted for just over 40% of sales in 2018.

Please note: This page was designed for writing practice only. Information in the graph may not be accurate.


  1. Change the words in the question to introduce your answer, e.g. This graph shows = This graph illustrates.
  2. The second paragraph should give an overview of the main points the graph shows (imagine you're describing the results to someone who can't see the graph).
  3. The following paragraphs should describe the main patterns or trends in more detail.
  4. Use precise vocabulary like steadily declined and a sharp increase to describe trends. Use linking expressions like while and in contrast to make comparisons.
  5. The question asks you only to 'Summarise the information'. Don't give reasons why these trends might have occurred, or your personal preferences on the topic.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Thanks for sharing such kind information.
Might you please explain more about the number as you mentioned in the paragraph.
1- sales but fell to 30% by 2018. Why using "to" with percentage and "by" with the year.
2- for just over 40% of sales in 2018.

Hello mxoubi0,

Mostly, this is just how we speak about these numbers. We use 'fall to' + a number to speak about a decrease in a value, not just percentages. If you follow the link and perform a search on that page for 'fell to', you will multiple examples of this and other uses.

One of the common meanings of 'by' is to indicate 'before' -- follow the link and look for entry 1.8. 'just over' means 'a little bit more than', so the number here could be, for example, 41 or 42%.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

I think the writer shall use had + been instead of using has+ been in the below statements
However, there has been a sharp rise in people streaming music since 2013.

Hello mxoubi0,

I'm afraid that's not correct, though it would be correct to use 'was' instead of 'has been'. 

I'd suggest you have a look at our explanations of the present perfect and the past perfect ('had been'). If it still doesn't make sense to you after that, please feel free to ask us about this again.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks again for the explanation.
So the writer could say that: However, there had been sharply rising in people streaming music since 2013.
Am I correct.

Hello mxoubi0,

No, I'm afraid that's not correct. After there + be (such as there had been) you need a noun phrase, so you need a sharp rise not a verb phrase.


Also, with regard to the past perfect, you need to have a second time reference. The past perfect is not used on its own. It exists with reference to a second past time. If you simply say since 2013 then you are describing a time which continues up to the present, not a past time which continued up to another past time.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for the explanation.
Another questions why the writer used has + been however I think he shall use Had+been because it's in the past.
However, there has been a sharp rise in people streaming music since 2013.

Hello mxoubi0,

In this sentence has been is a present perfect form. One use of the present perfect is to describe events which began in the past and continue up to the present. The phrase since 2013 has this meaning, so the present perfect is used.

Had been would be a past perfect form. It would be used to describe an action before another action in the past.

You can read more about the present perfect here.

You can read more about the present perfect here.



The LearnEnglish Team

I have one question: what do you mean of: physical sales and streaming?
actually I tried to search in the dictionary & in the google translate but i didn't convinced their translation.
also i want an advice or tips which helps me to get more vocabulary in English. Í am trying to read daily in English but I am using a dictionary during my reading so How can I save the new vocabulary i get it in my memory?
Thanks a lot

Hi Razan Mahairy,

I'll try to help. Physical sales means the sales of a object that you can hold or touch, like a music CD. If you buy music online, this is not a physical sale because you just get a file (e.g. an MP3), not a physical object.

Streaming means listening to music or watching a video online, on YouTube, for example. When you stream music, you don't own the music.

To develop your vocabulary, reading and using a dictionary is great! Do you have a vocabulary notebook? If not, I recommend making one – a notebook specially for vocabulary, separate from your other learning notes. Add new words and phrases in it, with notes about their meaning, usage, pronunciation, common phrases, and anything else important. Then, review them often and test yourself. Also, look for opportunities to use these words and phrases in your own writing and speaking.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team