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Describe that data

Do you ever have to give presentations or write formal reports?

Quite often the audience for these is someone who doesn't have as much technical or detailed knowledge of a topic as you do and so you have to summarise the data in ways that can be easily digested. You want to make sure your audience understands what you have to say. Giving too many facts and figures can add to the confusion when the topic is already complicated so describing the data can make it easier to understand.


It can be easy to fall into the trap of using the same vocabulary each time you want to illustrate something, so here are some handy phrases that can be used to describe data.

This is taken from my experience of coaching IELTS Academic writing part 1 where candidates have to describe a graph, chart or diagram.


A number slightly more than a half or a quarter, or any other proportion for that matter, can be described as:

  • Just over a half

  • A little over 25%

  • Slightly over a third

A number slightly less than a half or a quarter, or any other proportion for that matter, can be described as:

  • Just under a half

  • A little under 25%

  • Slightly under a third

  • Almost 50%

If the amount is not just under or over you could use words such as the following to describe it or provide an estimate:

  • About a half

  • Approximately 25%

  • Around a third

  • Roughly a quarter

It can be that there is a large difference between the two figures you want to describe.

This can be expressed as:

  • Well over a half

  • Well under a quarter

  • Quite a large difference


Although these phrases sound great, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine how we would use them in real world sentences. Here are some examples that I hope will help:


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