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Describe that chart

Talking about data can be useful, but depicting it with a chart is invaluable.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and using a pie chart or other form of graph is a great way to show your sales figures or advertising revenue.

However, putting a chart, or multiple charts, in a presentation or report without any explanation would be pointless. It is always better to include a short explanation of the data to put it into context.

There are many different words that can be used to describe changes in data over time.


Verbs to describe a general increase - don't forget to use the past simple form of these verbs when describing the data if it shows what has already happened.

  • Go up Sales of soup went up between September and October.

  • Increase Sales of ice cream increased between March and May.

  • Rise The number of games downloaded rose during the first months of the lockdown.

  • Climb Interest in online learning has climbed steadily in recent years.


Verbs to describe a general decrease - don't forget to use the past simple form of these verbs when describing the data if it shows what has already happened.


  • Go down Sales of soup went down between April and May.

  • Decrease Sales of ice cream decreased between September and November.

  • Fall The number of retail purchases fell during the lockdown.

  • Drop Visitor numbers at retail outlets have dropped in recent years.

Verbs to describe a sudden large increase - don't forget to use the past simple form of these verbs when describing the data if it shows what has already happened.


  • Jump There was a big jump in the number of people working from home.

  • Shoot up The sales of face masks shot up once the new law took effect.

  • Rocket The sales of hand sanitiser rocketed from January to February.


Verbs to describe a sudden large decrease - don't forget to use the past simple form of these verbs when describing the data if it shows what has already happened.


  • Plunge The number of foreign holiday bookings plunged from March.

  • Plummet The sales of beef plummeted after a health scare.


Quick reference guide:


Remember: choose your verbs carefully.

If there is a general increase or decrease don't use the words to describe big, sudden, changes. Save these words and only use them when dramatic emphasis is required.

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