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Describing charts

Learn how to write about charts.

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

Reading text

The first chart illustrates the percentage of the population who owned a smartphone from 2011 to 2016, and the second breaks the percentages down by age for 2011 and 2016.

Overall, smartphone ownership increased during the six-year period. In general, the younger people were, the more likely they were to own a smartphone. However, the most significant increases in smartphone ownership between 2011 and 2016 came from people aged 45 to 54, from 46% to 84%; from those in the 55 to 64 category, from 9% to 59%; and from those aged 65 to 74, from 5% to 50%.

The percentage of people who owned a smartphone rose steadily, starting at around 35% in 2011 and reaching about 77% by 2016. People aged 16 to 24 represented the greatest percentage of smartphone ownership in both 2011 and 2016. 75% of people aged 25 to 34 and 72% of those aged 35 to 44 owned a smartphone in 2011, rising to 88% and 86% respectively by 2016.

Although almost nobody in the 75+ age category owned a smartphone in 2011, 15% of this group owned smartphones in 2016. 

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


  1. If you are doing an exam task, read the instructions and make sure you write according to the word and time limits.
  2. Start by saying what the charts show. In an exam, change the words in the question to write the first sentence of your answer, e.g. These charts show = These charts illustrate.
  3. The second paragraph should provide an overview of the key features of the information.
  4. The other paragraphs should describe the patterns or trends in more detail. However, only select the most important ones to write about, and don't write about your own ideas.
  5. Use linking words and a range of vocabulary to describe what you see in the charts. (You can write % or per cent, but be consistent.) 
  6. Be careful to use the correct tenses to describe the time periods shown.



Language level

Intermediate: B1


Yes, I do. I'm studying international business management at university, so I have to evaluate and provide overviews of new trends in international business for my university presentations, therefore I have to describe a lot of charts very often

Yes, I have written about charts in my articles, my presentations and etc.

Yes l had to write a chart about my study. During my studies, I had wrote a chart describing my study activities.

Yes, I have. I have write about charts for my studies, when I was studying engineering and the master too. I think that when you write about charts you have to be carefully about the numbers, the dates and the specific situation that you want to describe. Sometimes is difficult to understand chart that take topics that you don´t know, but is important ever to let that the data speaks and not our ideas

I have written some IELTS stuff. But I found a good range of vocabulary to describe the chart. For example; the more likely; came from people aged 44 to 46, from 10% to 9%; from those in the 50 to 55, from 11% to 10%; and from those aged 56 to 58, from 12% to 11.

Sometimes I had to generate chart from given data, as I'm a programmer drawing chart is not that difficult for me but explain it in the text will be really difficult, but I must be good at that as well because in the future If I got promote to Team Lead or CTO I will need to write the explanation.

Unfortunately, as I'm a programmer, I'm writing a lot of codes but I have few chances to depict some charts or graphs to explain someone. Whereas, I'm sure I need to be familiar with those to get promote in the future. I'll try my best to gain the skill of illustrating, reading charts.

I used to write a lot about charts at my previous job. Moreover, I was creating most of them (I mean charts). That was my duty to analyze data and represent it in charts. Not the most exciting task but, well, someone had to do this.
I was a kind of administrator of the company's database and all questions about work progress (in many kinds - construction, financial, rents etc) were my area of responsibility.
Sometimes it was boring, all these numbers, but I felt responsibility about result and company's board confidence.

Hi teacher, could we say that until reached the peak value at 80% or till reached the peak value at 80%. Please explain. Thanks.

Hi mxoubi0,

You can use until and till here. There's no difference in meaning. Till is slightly less formal than until, but it's perfectly fine for most writing.

A subject needs to be added, e.g. until ownership reached the peak value at 80%.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team