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How to describe a Bar Chart?

WHAT IS A BAR CHART?

Bar chart or graph is a chart or graph that presents categorical data with rectangular bars.


HOW TO WRITE INTRODUCTION FOR BAR CHARTS?

For introductions, you can use the same method that we used for line graphs. Here is an example of how you can write an introduction for the bar chart.


The chart shows the spending on consumer goods in four countries.


Sample Introduction: The bar chart compares consumer spending on six different items in Germany, Italy, France and Britain.


Notice how some of the phrases have been paraphrased and some other details have been added:

The chart shows = The bar chart compares

The spending on consumer goods = consumer spending on six different items

In four countries = in Germany, Italy, France and Britain


HOW TO WRITE AN OVERVIEW FOR BAR GRAPHS?

The overview should include the most important features and patterns in the graph. Try to answer these questions to identify the key features in the bar graphs:

  • Which category (countries) is the highest or lowest?

  • Which sub-category (consumer goods) is the highest or lowest?

After answering these questions, you can put the key features from the graph below in two sentences:

It is clear that British people spent significantly more money than people in the other three countries on all six goods. Of the six items, consumers spent the most money on photographic film.


HOW TO ORGANISE AND COMPARE FIGURES IN BODY PARAGRAPHS?

For bar graph like this, there are several ways to organise the information. But your main task should be to compare the countries. One way of doing this is the following structure:

  • Paragraph 3: Compare the spending in Britain and Germany (the highest and lowest figures)

  • Paragraph 4: Compare the average categories: Italy vs France

Here is how you can put this into sentences with data:


PARAGRAPH 3

People in Britain spent just over £170,000 on photographic film, which is the highest figure shown on the chart. By contrast, Germans were the lowest overall spenders, with roughly the same figures (just under £150,000) for each of the six products.


PARAGRAPH 4

The figures for spending on toys were the same in both France and Italy, at nearly £160,000. However, while French people spent more than Italians on photographic film and CDs, Italians paid out more for personal stereos, tennis racquets and perfumes. The amount spent by French people on tennis racquets, around £145,000, is the lowest figure shown on the chart.


TIP

Remember that overview is the most important section of your report. You may get high or low score based on your overview paragraph.

  • Band 4 = no overview

  • Band 5 = no clear overview

  • Band 6 = presents an overview

  • Band 7 = presents a clear overview

So, if you want a high score, your overview needs to be good. Try to include the two most important features of the graph in the overview.



CHALLENGE


Write a report for the following chart.


The chart below shows numbers of incidents and injuries per 100 million passenger miles travelled (PMT) by transportation type in 2002.

Send your answer to Writing Community.


Here's my advice for a 4-paragraph essay:

1. Introduction: Explain what the chart shows by paraphrasing the question.

2. Overview: Look for two main things - in this case, we could mention the highest item and the fact that there were more incidents than injuries for all five transport types. You don't need to mention any numbers at this point.

3. Details: I'd probably group together the two highest items (demand response and bus) in this paragraph. Remember that you can't talk about an increase or decrease; you can only compare the numbers.

4. Details: I'd group the three types of rail transport together for this paragraph. Write some nice comparison sentences!