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.
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Worksheet197.32 KB

Language level

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.

Submitted by IKEDA on Tue, 01/09/2020 - 17:15

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.

Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 17:07

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.

Submitted by mxoubi0 on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 15:49

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

Submitted by mxoubi0 on Tue, 11/08/2020 - 12:15

The chart shows the statistics of smartphone ownership over five years between 2011 and 2016. These relative amounts were distributed into six categories based on the ages starts at the age of 16 to 75+. Overall, the virtual graph illustrates the increase in the percentage of people where started from just below 40% in 2011 till reached a peak of around 79% in 2016 that means the numbers of using smartphones were in increasing continually. On the other hand, the column table demonstrates the mobile phone ownership by age class in 2011 and 2016 so the relative amounts behavior in two years are almost the same as the first age class between 16 to 24 reached up to 80% in both years although the people aged 75+ represented the lowest percentage of the smartphone ownership by 5%, and 15% in 2011 and 2016, respectively. It can be seen that the percentage of using technology in our world in particular for young people has been increasing since it discovered.

Submitted by seito kaito on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 17:22

2. I am a university student, so I have not written any charts yet. However, there are various classes at university, and among them, there are classes for giving presentations. In the class of this presentation, various charts such as graphs and tables are used. I recently gave a presentation in class. I talked about global coronavirus infection situation. I used various graphs. For example, graphs showing how many people are infected with coronavirus by region and which countries have many coronavirus infected people. I always find and use graphs on the internet that match the content of my presentation. Also, since I have not been able to go to school because of the coronavirus these days, I am using a table to keep record of my studies. However, I am still not very good at using charts. So, I want to practice chart usage in university.

Submitted by Ayano on Mon, 27/07/2020 - 07:52

 I’ve written about charts. I don’t remember in detail, but I’ve done this since when I was elementary school student. In addition, I’m studying to write about charts, and I’ll announce by using some charts at another class. When I was elementary school student, I didn’t write about charts mainly, but I saw charts in textbooks. Particularly, it was social studies classes.   I saw many times pie charts, bar graph, and band graph. For example, it had been explained the percentage of people such like a what age groups is the highest in Tokyo in band graph. In pie charts, it had been shown the industrial production value. By having saw this, I learned what the highest number at the point of heavy industry or light industry and how many Japan is export to the world. I think that we cannot understand only in words and sentences. In fact, it took time to read textbooks and I didn’t go next page smoothly. However, by being charts, I can read meaning of words or sentences in one time. The feature of charts is this. in other words, charts are given us information by looking at in one time. Therefore, I’ll make charts like this and I want classmate to understand my announcement in the class.

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sun, 26/04/2020 - 17:41

Yes. I had, concerning my study.

Submitted by JuanManuelLopezGil on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 01:00

Yeah, when I was working at DDB have to write many reports about my clients; with growth indicators, customer analysis, trends-detection and others that were based in graphics from different types.

Submitted by JuanManuelLopezGil on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 00:59

Off course, my favourite are infographics.

Submitted by Nikolaos Stavr… on Thu, 02/04/2020 - 11:41

Well, sometimes I have to create a bar chart or lines graphs using specific applications and then to illustrate them at a company meeting. Nikolaos PS. Could you tell me please, if it's better to use illustrate or present?

Hello Nikolaos

'present' is a good choice here. I wouldn't recommend 'illustrate' in that context.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Magedelabd on Fri, 27/03/2020 - 19:01

Yes sometimes I have to create a chart report reflects my company target achievement. Explains how much turnover we achieved for parts and labor. Also I have to compare our current achievement to the previous years and show how the trends go.

Submitted by jazmin marquez on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 20:14

Yes, I have had to write about graphics at work and in studies. I think most people have a hard difficulties to reading these kinds of texts. The above, despite the fact that it is very important, because you can see graphics in the news, in the newspapers, and if you do not know how to read these, you can be uninformed about what is happening in the world. In summary, writing and reading graphics are relevant and necessary skills in our context.

Submitted by M19 on Thu, 05/03/2020 - 12:33

It's a mandatory thing of the university, you can't graduate without having done that

Submitted by M19 on Thu, 05/03/2020 - 09:24

It is a common thing to do at the University where I study. In fact it's mandatory and a significant part of the curriculum.

Submitted by shahhoseini on Mon, 02/03/2020 - 16:35

Yes, I did. I have written some charts about the share of renewable energies to produce total power electricity in my country.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Mon, 02/12/2019 - 18:08

I wrote about charts for my studies, when I attended a specialisation course in growth of interior areas of my country.