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.


Worksheet197.32 KB

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Submitted by Thu_tran2911 on Mon, 05/09/2022 - 19:49


This is an absolutely example of a misleading chart since the total number of perentage each age range over 100%. Being said that, the inaccurate of the data due to writing pratice purpose is allowed as per the note, chart should be chosen logically.

Hello Thu_tran2911,

I assume you're referring to the two bar charts rather than the line chart. I don't agree that these are misleading. The bars do not show a percentage of the total population but rather what percentage of each age group owns smartphones. In other words, in 2011 over 80% of people aged 16-24 owned smartphones and just under 80% of people aged 25-34. There is no reason to add these together; they describe different groups, not percentages of the whole population.

In a similar way, I could say that 60% of women have brown eyes in a certain country while 70% of men have brown eyes. That does not mean that we are describing 130% as each statistic describes the percentage within a group and not within the country as a whole.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LamVanPhuong on Tue, 16/11/2021 - 09:13


actually, I have never written about charts at work or for my studies but I will do it in the future.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Sat, 06/11/2021 - 17:05


Yes, I'm a economics students so I frequently used charts and tables to illustrate trends. I have many charts present in front of my teacher.

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Mon, 05/07/2021 - 04:26

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

Submitted by Ehsan on Wed, 09/06/2021 - 07:31

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

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Sun, 28/02/2021 - 14:24

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

Submitted by German on Tue, 23/02/2021 - 03:33

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

Submitted by Ugulhan on Sat, 03/10/2020 - 08:49

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.

Submitted by kyawkyawsoezhu on Thu, 03/09/2020 - 17:49

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.