How to Describe Graphs & Charts


Graphs and charts are a crucial aspect to many industries. These plotting devices allow a person to show differences based on a dependent and an independent variable. Graphs and charts are often used to organize and display information gained through an experiment, research, a study or mathematical process; and often display correlations between both the independent and dependent variables. Reading and describing a chart is relatively easy, especially since most graphs and charts are labeled.

  • Identify what the graph will display. This can usually be discerned by the title of the graph, and will provide a basis for the information contained in the graph.

  • Identify the independent variable information located along the horizontal axis of the graph, also called the X axis. This is the controllable variable in the experiment, study or project. It can be a variety of selections related to the graph.

  • Identify the dependent variable along the vertical axis, often called the Y axis. This is the result of the various changes directly correlating to the independent variable. The changes are usually expressed through a numbering scale.

  • Specify any special markings or notations on the graph within the graph's legend. Some graphs will be made up of two or more graphs or contain special information designated by a specific marking. These markings, and what they mean, are found in the legend of the graph.


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