31368 TOURISM Unit 6 Describing Graphs
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Unit 6: DESCRIBING GRAPHS
A graph is a drawing that shows how two sets of information or variables (= amounts that can
change) are related, usually by lines or curves. In other words, a graph is a graphical
representation of data. Data is represented by bars in a bar chart, lines in a line chart, or slices in a
pie chart. A data chart is a type of diagram or graph, that organizes and represents a set of
numerical or qualitative data.
There are several types of charts or graphs:
The bars can be plotted vertically () or horizontally ().
LINE CHART OR LINE GRAPH:
1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Number of incoming tourist to Maldives from 1992 to 2012
1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 No.
Number of incoming tourist to Maldives from 1992 to 2012
Charts are used to ease the understanding of large quantities of data and the relationships between
parts of the data. Charts can usually be read more quickly than the raw data that they are
produced from. They are used in a wide variety of fields and are usually created using a charting
Certain types of charts are more useful for presenting a given data set than others. For example,
data that presents percentages in different groups (such as " Total arrivals to Hawaii in 2006") are
often displayed in a pie chart. On the other hand, data that represents numbers that change over a
period of time (such as " Number of incoming tourist to Maldives from 1992 to 2012") might be
best shown as a bar chart or a line chart.
PRESENTING A GRAPH
When presenting information given in a line or bar graph, follow a simple structure. Your report
should contain an introduction, body and conclusion.
Total arrivals to Hawaii in 2006
The first sentence when describing a line graph or a bar graph consists of three elements:
Introduction Describe what sort of graph or chart it is and what it is about.
Describe the sections of the graph starting with the biggest (in case of a pie chart) or the first (in case of a line or bar grpah)and working your way down. This does not mean that you should note every detail. You will need to summarise the graph in meaningful segments. This part may contain more than one paragraph.
Conclusion A short conclusion giving an overall view of what the chart is about.
This graph shows
The diagram outlines
This table lists
This pie chart represents
This line chart depicts
This chart breaks down
the results of our products
rates of economic growth
the top tour operators
the hotel's turnover
the changes in sales
the sales of each sales representative
over 7 years.
between 2005 and 2012.
specialising in luxurious holidays.
for this year.
over the past year.
during the past six months.
Then follow the description of the graph which is different for different types of graphs/charts and
depends on the type of information presented.
LINE GRAPH A line graph depicts changes over a period of time, showing data and trends. Trends are the
changes or movements in facts or figures over a period of time.
The three basic trends are:
upward movement :
downward movement :
no movement :
For each trend there are a number of verbs and nouns to express the movement. Verbs can be
transitive and intransitive.
Many of the verbs of change also have a noun form which is used to describe change.
The government plans to raise the basic level of income tax. We must put an object after a transitive verb:
The basic level of income tax will rise later this year. We cannot put an object after an intransitive verb:
Verb of change
I think domestic demand will fall.
There was a growth in profits.
The number of inbound tourist to Croatia has increased.
Unemployment levels fell.
Noun of change
I think there will be a fall in the domestic demand.
There has been an increase in the number of inbound tourists to Croatia.
There was a fall in unemployment levels.
Indicating upward movement
Indicating no movement:
Verbs (transitive) (to) increase (to) raise (to) extend, (to) expand
Verbs (intransitive) (to) increase (to) rise (to) grow (to) extend (to) expand (to) progress (to) boom, (to) soar, (to) climb (to) jump, (to) skyrocket (to) reach a peak, (to) peak (to) reach an all-time high
Nouns (an) increase (a) rise (a) growth (an) extension (an) expansion (a) progression (a) boom (a) jump (a) peak
(to) keep ... stable (to) hold ... constant (to) level off (to) stand at
(to) remain stable (to) stay constant (to) level off/out, (to) flatten out (to) remain steady
Noun (a) levelling-off
Indicating downward movement:
OTHER EXPRESSIONS to fluctuate We use this expression to describe when there has been a serious of changes both up and down.
Prices have fluctuated wildly since the beginning of the year. to stand at We use this expression to focus on a particular point, often before we talk about the trends of movement.
At the beginning of the year, sales in India stood at 200,000. to reach a peak We use this expression to talk about the highest point of a trend.
Late last year, sales of our new product reached a peak of 12,000 units. to bottom out We use this expression to talk about the lowest point of a trend.
The share price of OPP bank bottomed out at 1.50. to level off We use this expression to talk about the point when a changing trend becomes stable.
After a long period of decline, the share price finally levelled off at 5.25.
Verbs (transitive) (to) decrease (to) cut, (to) reduce
Verbs (intransitive) (to) decrease (to) fall (off) (to) plunge, (to) plummet (to) drop (off) (to) go down (to) decline (to) slump, (to) go bust
Nouns (a) decrease
(a) cut, (a) reduction (a) fall (a) plunge (a) drop decline slump
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT TRENDS
ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS Sometimes we need to give more information about a trend. We can do that by modifying
the noun or the verb we used to describe the change. For example, we can indicate the
degree of change or the speed at which the change took place.
Adjectives and adverbs are used for this purpose. Remember that we modify a noun with
an adjective and a verb with an adverb.
DEGREE OF CHANGE SPEED OF CHANGE
ADJECTIVE + NOUN
There has been a slight increase in the number of
flights to Split airport this year.
VERB + ADVERB
The number of flights to split airport has increased slightly
rapid quick swift sudden steady gradual slow
rapidly quickly swiftly suddenly steadily gradually slowly
dramatic sharp enormous steep substantial considerable significant marked moderate slight
dramatically sharply enormously steeply substantially considerably significantly markedly moderately slightly
PREPOSITIONS Prepositions are also important when describing graphs as they are used to show:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOW AND BEFORE - increase by (with the verb) and an
increase of (with the noun)
This year unemployment has increased by 20,000 cases (the difference between this year and
last year is 20,000 cases).
This year there has been an increase in unemployment of 5%.
THE END RESULT - rise to (with the verb) and a rise to (with the noun)
This year unemployment has risen to 10%.
This year there has been a rise in unemployment to 10%.
LINE GRAPH: AN EXAMPLE
This graph shows the trend in the number of tourist overnights in the period from 2006 to 2010 in Croatia. The numbers have shown slight fluctuation but mostly it has been an upward trend.
The initial figure in 2006 stood at 47 022 000 and it increased dramatically over the year. In the following year the number of tourist overnights experienced a slight growth and reached a total of 50 600 000 overnights in 2008. The numbers decreased slightly in the following year but recovered again in 2010 when they reached an all time high of 51 000 000 overnights.
Overall, the graph indicates that Croatia has been recording an increasing number of overnights apart from a brief minor crisis in 2009.
46500 47000 47500 48000 48500 49000 49500 50000 50500 51000 51500
2006 2006 2007 2007 2008 2008 2009 2009 2010 2010 2011
The number of tourists nights (000) in Croatia
A pie chart is a circle divided into segments. It displays the size of each part as a percentage of a
Report structure for a pie chart
When you report on the information contained in a pie chart you should follow a simple structure
which is the same as in bar and line chart, i.e. your report should contain an introduction, body
Descriptions of pie charts may require a lot of comparing and contrasting. Make sure you remember how to do it. For example:
cheap cheaper the cheapest large larger the largest bright brighter the brightest good better the best bad worse the worst pretty prettier the prettiest happy happier the happiest common more common the most common clever more clever/cleverer the most clever/cleverest attractive more attractive the most attractive profitable more profitable the most profitable
Introduction Describe what sort of chart it is and what it is about.
Describe the sections of the graph starting with the biggest and working your way down. This does not mean that you should note every detail. You will need to summarise the graph in meaningful segments. This part may contain more than one paragraph.
Conclusion A short conclusion giving an overall view of what the chart is about.
There are many different ways in which you can start your sentences. For example, when describing one part of the chart: Starting with the adjective: The highest percentage of tourists are interested in
seeing The greatest proportion of packages are sold by The lowest number of holiday makers that
visit us in April come from
The most attractive sight is Starting with the subject: Golden horn is the most popular beach on the
island. Turkey is the second/third
most attractive Destination of the
Mediterranean. Train is the least efficient mode of transport
in Croatia. Czech tourists are the most loyal visitors of the Croatian
coastal resorts. When describing two parts of the chart: Starting with the adjective: There are
as many twice as many three times as many not as many
visitors coming from Asian countries
More Far more Much more Many more Substantially/considerably/ significantly more Slightly more
guests choose to stay in B&Bs
Starting with the subject: Scandinavian countries are
Mediterranean destinations are
as quite as just as nearly as almost as not as
Rural accommodation is more much more far more substantially/considerably more slightly more less much less far less considerably less
PIE CHART: AN EXAMPLE
The pie charts illustrate the primary reasons that people came to the UK in 2007. At first glance it is clear that the main factor influencing this decision was employment. Having a definite job accounted for 30 per cent of immigration to the UK. There are twice as many people who came to the UK for that reason as compared to those moving to join a family member. Another major factor influencing a move to the UK was for formal study, with over a quarter of people immigrating for this reason. Although a significant number of people (32%) gave other reasons or did not give a reason why they emigrated, this accounted for only 17%. Overall, the pie chart shows that the main reasons people come to the UK is employment and study.
Main reasons for migration to the UK in 2007
Accompany / Join
Looking for work
No reason stated
GUIDELINES FOR A GOOD GRAPH/CHART DESCRIPTION Read the following questions as their answers will guide you to a good description of a graph/chart. Does the report have a suitable structure?
Does it have an introduction, body and conclusion? Does it include connective words to make the writing cohesive within sentences and
paragraphs? Does the report use suitable grammar and vocabulary?
Does it include a variety of sentence structures? Does it include a range of appropriate vocabulary?
Your result will be much better if you use a range of structures and vocabulary correctly rather than a limited number. This is a bad example that clearly shows a lack of structures:
The number of tourist started at 500 in 1998 and then went up to 860 in 2004 and then went up to 930 in 2009 and then went down to 900 in 2011.
Does the report meet the requirements of the task?
Does it meet the word limit requirements? Does it describe the whole graph adequately? Does it focus on the important trends presented in the graphic information?
What information did you select? It is important that you describe the whole graph fully. However, this does not mean that you should note every detail. In most cases there will be too much information for you to mention each figure. You will therefore need to summarise the graph by dividing it into its main parts. This is what we mean by describing the trends. The structure of the report must show the main trends clearly. What is the structure of your report? Your report should be structured simply with an introduction, body and conclusion. Tenses should be used appropriately.
Introduction Use two standard opening sentences to introduce your report. These opening sentences should make up the first paragraph. Sentence one should define what the graph is about; that is, the date, location, what is being described in the graph etc. Sentence two (and possibly three) might sum up the overall trend.
The body The body of the report will describe the graph in detail. You will need to decide on the most clear and logical order to present the material. Line graphs generally present information in chronological order and so the most logical order for you to write up the information would, most probably be from earliest to latest. Pie charts are organised in different ways and so you need to decide on the organisation of each one.
Concluding sentences Your report may end with one or two sentences which summarise your report to draw a relevant conclusion.
EXERCISES Task 1. Read paragraphs below which describe changes in company figures over six months from January to June. A quarter means three months.
a Underline parts of the text that indicate the change. b Draw a graph for each of the descriptions.
UK SALES: When demand decreased at the start of the year, UK sales fell sharply. They remained steady until April, then rose again dramatically in the second quarter when the market improved.
OUTPUT: The decrease in overseas sales caused a dramatic drop in output at the Birmingham plant in the first quarter. There was a steady increase in the second when domestic sales improved.
STOCK LEVELS: There was a steady decrease in stock levels at the Glasgow plant in the first quarter due to the introduction of a new inventory control system. The slight increase in the second quarter was due to the rise in output.
PROFITS: The profits of the plastics division have fallen steadily over the last five months due to the fall in demand and increases in production costs. The slight rise in profits last month was due to the recent price increases.
PROFIT MARGIN: A sudden jump in the production costs of our ACME washing machine caused a drop in the profit margin in the first quarter. The margin remained the same in the second, due to a sharp fall in the costs of components.
Task 2. Use the following words to complete the graph description:
slight, rise, drop quickly, fluctuation, sharp increase, significantly
The graph shows the ______________ (1) in the number of people at a London underground station over the course of a day.
The busiest time of the day is in the morning. There is a _____________ (2) between 06:00 and 08:00, with 400 people using the station at 8 o'clock. After this the numbers _______________ (3) to less than 200 at 10 o'clock. Between 11 am and 3 pm the number rises, with a plateau of just under 300 people using the station.
In the afternoon, numbers decline, with less than 100 using the station at 4 pm. There is then a rapid __________ (4) to a peak of 380 at 6pm. After 7 pm, numbers fall _______________ (5), with only a ___________ (6) increase again at 8pm, tailing off after 9 pm.
Overall, the graph shows that the station is most crowded in the early morning and early evening periods.
Task 3. Complete the following description of a line graph.
New Zealand Wool Price
a peak of fluctuated levelled off rising rose by sharp increase
In 1980, the price of New Zealand's wool was $1.98 per kilo. It then ___________ 20 cents in 1981 before falling back to $1.37 in 1986. There was a _________ over the next two years, with the price of wool reaching __________ $5.13 in 1988. From 1989 to 1993 the price _________ between a high of $3.20 and a low of $2.75, before ________ to $4.60 in 1995. After falling again to $3.60 in 1998, the price ____________ at $3.55 in 2000.
Task 4. Match graph line from the left with the correct description on the right.
a Production grew more and more rapidly over the first three quarters but then reached a peak. Since then, it has quickly dropped.
b Production has fluctuated all year.
c Production has dropped slowly but steadily over the year.
d Production started off steady, but fell sharply in the last quarter.
e Production showed a marginal rise in the first three quarters, but then suffered a sharp drop.
f After a considerable drop in the first two quarters, production bottomed out at 20. Since then it has started to rise.
g Production started climbing steadily but flattened off at a level of around 70. Since then, it has fallen steadily.
h There has been a slight increase in production over the year.
i There was a rapid drop in production in the first quarter, but it bottomed out at about 20.
Task 5. Complete the following pairs of sentences which describe the same trend but using different part of speech. Then draw the line to illustrate the change. 1. Customer numbers fluctuated considerably.
There were __________________ _________________ in customer numbers.
2. There was a steep rise in customer numbers.
Customer numbers __________________ _________________.
3. Customer numbers __________________ _________________.
There was a gradual rise in customer numbers.
4. There was a peak in customer numbers in August.
Customer numbers __________________ in August.
5. The number of customers dropped dramatically. There was a __________________ _________________ in customer numbers.
Task 6. 6.1. This pie chart expresses the number of visitors in numbers. In pie charts this is commonly done in percentages. Calculate the total number of visitors in the above chart and then the percentage of each group of visitors shown in the chart.
How many people go to Antarctica as tourists and where do they come from?
United States __________% United Kingdom _______% Germany __________% Australia __________% Canada __________% Japan __________% Netherlands __________% Switzerland __________% Others __________%
United States; 16,531
5,0902 Australia; 3,338
Japan; 1,7201 Netherlands;
6.2. Then complete the following description.
This pie chart tells us how many people visit Antarctica annually and where they come
from. The total number of visitors is ________________ (1) divided into ________ (2) categories, i.e.
countries of origin.
The highest percentage of tourists comes from the United States. US visitors account for
________ (3) % of all visits, more than one third of all the visits to Antarctica. The UK tourists are
the second largest group of visitors to Antarctica but still more than twice smaller than that of US
Antarctica seems to be a slightly less attractive destination for German tourists than it is for
the UK ones but they still make up as much as ______ (4) % of all visits to Antarctica. There is only
a slight difference in the number of Australian and Canadian visitors. They account for _______ (5)
and _______ (6) percent of visits respectively.
At the bottom end of the major segments of visitors there are Japanese, Swiss and Dutch
tourists whose visits to Antarctica range from __________ (7) to _________ (8) percent.
Finally, all other nations are represented with a significantly lower number of visitors. All
together these countries account for ______ (9) % in the total number of visitors.
In conclusion, the chart indicates that the US tourists are by far the most frequent visitors to
Antarctica, followed by a comparatively large number of UK tourists considering the difference in
the size and population of the two countries. The small difference between the number of
Australian and Canadian guests also shows that distance may not be a decisive factor in choosing
Task 7. Remember that some verbs in English are irregular. Revise them using this wordle.
INFINITIVE PAST TENSE PAST PARTICIPLE
Task 8. Visit the following useful site for learning and practicing vocabulary used in describing graphs: http://adw.hct.ac.ae/site_ilc/sites_ielts/graphsite/index.htm
Unit 6: DESCRIBING GRAPHSIndicating upward movement (Indicating no movement: (