8. Presenting Data
I Single line graph
1 Writing task
You will be given a graph with a single line. Your task is to write a 150-word report to describe the information given in the graph. You are not asked to give your opinion.
What is being tested is your ability to:
♦ objectively describe the information given to you
♦ report on a topic without the use of opinion♦ use suitable language to describe the graph
Task: Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information in the graph below.
2. Guidelines for a good description
Does the report have a suitable structure?
¨ Does it have an introduction, body and conclusion?
¨ Does it include connective words to make the writing cohesive within sentences and paragraphs?
Does thereport use suitable grammar and vocabulary?
¨ Does it include a variety of sentence structures?
¨ Does it include a range of appropriate vocabulary?
Does the report meet the requirements of the task?
¨ Does it meet the word limit requirements?
¨ Does it describe the whole graph adequately?
¨ Does it focus on the important trends presented in the graphic information?
3. Strategies forimproving your Writing
3.1 Selecting information
It is important that you describe the whole graph fully. However, this does not mean that you should note every detail. In most cases there will be too much information for you to mention each figure. You will therefore need to summarize the graph by dividing it into its main parts. This is what we mean by describing the trends. For example, in achronological line graph it might seem sensible to describe the information year by year or period by period. The graph above gives the information in five-year sections so we could write our report like this:
The number of cases of X disease started at 50 in 1965 and then went up gradually to 100 in 1965 and continued up to 200 in 1970 and then went up more sharply to 380 in 1975.
While thisway of describing the information may be accurate, it does not meaningfully sum up the information in the graph. In fact, the information in the graph would most meaningfully be described in four chronological sections following the shape of the graph.
3.2 Report structure
Your report should be structured simply with an introduction, body and conclusion. Tenses should be used appropriately.3.2.1 Introduction
Use two standard opening sentences to introduce your report. These opening sentences should make up the first paragraph. Sentence one should define what the graph is about; that is, the date, location, what is being described in the graph etc. For example:
The graph shows the number of cases of X disease in Someland between the years 1960 and 1995 …
Notice the tense used.Even though it describes information from the past, the graph shows the information in the present time. Notice that the sample opening sentence does not simply copy the words used on the graphic material.
3.2.2 Describing the overall trend
Sentence two (and possibly three) might sum up the overall trend. For example:
It can be clearly seen that X disease increased rapidly to 500 casesaround the 1980s and then dropped to zero before 1999, while Y disease fell consistently from a high point of nearly 600 cases in 1960 to less than 100 cases in 1995.
Notice the tense used. Here we are talking about the occurrence of the disease in the past.
3.2.3 Describing the graph in detail
The body of the report will describe the graph or graphs in detail. You will need to decide on the mostclear and logical order to present the material. Line graphs generally present information in chronological order and so the most logical order for you to write up the information would, most probably be from earliest to latest. Bar graphs, pie charts are organised in different ways and so you need to decide on the organization of each one.
3.2.4 Concluding sentences
Your report may end...
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