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Introduction to visuals

In Task 1 of IELTS Writing you are asked to describe information that is presented in a visual format. In this post we’ll look at the different types of tasks you may encounter in Task 1.

The information you need to describe can be shown in several different ways. This could involve graphs, charts or tables showing facts and figures, diagrams showing how something works, such as a natural or machine process, or maps showing a location.

Types of visual information

Line graphs

A line graph visually represents change over time, usually with the dates or times on the horizontal axis and whatever unit is being measured, e.g. number, percentage, cost etc. on the vertical axis.

Bar charts/graphs

A bar chart or bar graph can be used to compare either different items in general, as in this example, or to show change over time, where the horizontal axis shows dates and the vertical axis shows quantity.

Pie charts

Pie charts are used to compare relative data and show percentages.


Tables are another way of showing numerical data, and these are often provided together with a graph or chart to show additional information or details or make comparisons.


Diagrams like this show a process, with all the different parts and stages involved.


Finally, you may be given a map or maps, often showing the same location at two different times.

As you can see, some of these examples show data at one particular time or in general. This is called static data. Others, such as line graphs or bar charts, show data that changes over time, and this is called dynamic data. The type of data will affect the language you need to use, especially vocabulary and tense. Over the next steps we will look in detail at some of the language you will need for different tasks.

Have you ever tried to describe such graphs or diagrams? Do any of them look easier or more difficult to you? Tell us in the comments below.

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