Describing charts in English

There are various types of charts. In the following example we show the numbers of pets in Year 7 of a school.

Charts English
table
pie chart
bar chart
line graph

List with phrases to describe charts

• The pie chart is about ...
• The bar chart deals with ...
• The line graph (clearly) shows ...
• The slices of the pie chart compare the ...
• The chart is divided into ... parts.
• It highlights ...
• ... has the largest (number of) ...
• ... has the second largest (number of) ...
• ... is as big as ...
• ... is twice as big as ...
• ... is bigger than ...
• more than ... per cent ...
• only one third ...
• less than half ...
• The number ... increases/goes up/grows by ...
• The number ... decreases/goes down/sinks by ...
• The number ... does not change/remains stable
• I was really surprised/shocked by the ...
• So we can say ...

Use of Tenses

Mind the correct use of tenses when describung a chart. If the charts deals with facts in the present (as in our example), use the Simple Present, if the facts are the past, then use the Simple Past. If there is a connection between the past and the present, use the Present Perfect.

How to describe a chart

With the following example we would like to show you how charts are described. Mind the three parts and do not repeat the global message in the conclusion.

A Pets in Year 7 at a school

We have chosen the pie chart because we think it shows the number of pets in Year 7 best.

1 Introduction

Here you say what the diagram is about. Mind the title of it and do not forget to include the source.

The pie chart is about the pets in Year 7. The chart is divided into 5 parts. It is taken from ...

2 Message of the diagram

The largest number of pets are in form 7GI. There are 16 pets.
The second largest number of pets are in form 7HK. There are 8 pets.
So there are more than twice as many pets in form 7GI.
The chart shows that there are only 2 pets in form 7CS and 3 in form 7VR.

3 Conclusion

So we can say that the most pets of Year 7 are in form 7GI and the least in form 7CS. There are more than 50 per cent of all the pets in one form - form 7GI.