# Understanding Diagrams and Graphs

Diagrams and charts are important because they present information visually. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies when it comes diagrams and charts. This guide provides a few hints on understanding information visually.

## Overview

• Don’t skip over diagrams and graphs when reading!
• These visual aids provide summaries or can illustrate a complex process; understanding how to read them is a very efficient way to learn material.
• When tackling diagrams or graphs, pay attention to:
• Captions: What clues about the illustration can you gain from the general description?
• Labels: Can you define or describe the items labeled? If not, reread the text.
• Directionality: Are there arrows, numbers or letters that orient the illustration?
• The Big Picture: Do you notice any trends in data? Can you draw conclusions about relationships among items on a diagram?

## Practice

Review the two examples provided. By answering the questions for each, you’ll see how much information can be gleaned from diagrams and graphs.

### Graph 1 Questions

• What information does this diagram provide?
• How do the arrows help illustrate the process depicted in the diagram?
• How do the colors of the arrows and the text help organize the facts?

Courtesy: climatechange.umaine.edu

### Graph 2 Questions

• What information does this graph provide?
• Note the labels in the X and Y Axis, as well as the location of the “Profit Target” line.
• What does this graph tell you about the performance of the three products over the course of a year?

Courtesy: JPowered

## Studying with Diagrams and Graphs

• Start assigned readings by first reviewing any visual aids provided. This will lay the foundation for understanding the meat of your reading.
• Review them again right before class. This will help prepare you for lecture.
• After you have completed a reading assignment, create a visual representation that demonstrates your understanding. This active learning strategy is an effective way to transfer your new learning to your long-term memory.

Developed and shared by The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.