Picture Graph in Math – Definition, Facts, Examples, FAQs

Home » Math-Vocabluary » Picture Graph in Math – Definition, Facts, Examples, FAQs

What Are Picture Graphs?

Picture graphs, also known as pictographs, are visual representations of data using pictures or symbols to represent quantities. Picture graphs offer a visually engaging way to present and understand data, making it easier to identify patterns, compare quantities, and draw conclusions.

In a picture graph, each picture or symbol represents a certain quantity or value. Picture graphs are commonly used to display categorical data or data that can be easily represented by visual symbols.

The symbols used in picture graphs can vary depending on the context and the data being represented. 

Picture graph example: If the data is about the number of apples sold by different vendors, each picture or symbol in the graph may represent a certain number of apples.

Picture graph representing apples sold by four vendors

Definition of Picture Graph

A picture graph or a pictograph are visual representations used to represent data using pictures, symbols, icons, etc. 

Different Parts of a Picture Graph

  • Title: The title describes the main topic or subject of the graph.
  • Categories: Categories tell us about the type of data or different items 
  • Data Points: Data points are the specific symbols or pictures used to represent the data. Each data point corresponds to a specific value or category.
  • Key/Legend: The key or legend provides a reference for interpreting the symbols used in the graph. It explains what each symbol represents and helps viewers understand the data accurately.
  • Scale: The scale of a pictograph is the number the symbols represent.
  • Labels: Labels are used to provide additional information and context for the graph. They may include titles for the axes, labels for the data points, and any other relevant information.

These different parts work together to create a visual representation of data in a picture graph, making it easier to understand and interpret the information being conveyed.

Parts of a Pictograph

How to Read a Pictograph

A key is mentioned along with the picture graph to indicate what each symbol/image represents. The key of a pictograph is a section that explains the symbols used in the graph. It associates each symbol with its corresponding value or category. It helps viewers understand and interpret the data accurately.

Picture graph of number of pens sold over a week

The key shows that 1 picture of a pen shows 4 pens were sold, which means that the scale of the pictograph is 4. A scale implies the number of objects shown by 1 symbol or picture on the graph.

The picture of half a pen means 2 pens were sold.

  • Monday: On the above pictograph, there are 4 pen symbols shown on Monday. As each pen represents 4 pens, that means, on Monday 4 × 4 = 16 pens were sold.
  • Tuesday: 5 × 4 = 20 pens
  • Wednesday: 3 × 4 = 12 pens
  • Thursday: 5 × 4 = 20 pens
  • Friday: It shows a picture of 2 and a half pens. So, 2 pens represent 8 pens and half a pen represents 2 pens. Therefore, pens sold on Friday = 8 + 2 = 10 pens.
  • Saturday: 6 × 4 = 24 pens
  • Sunday: 3 × 4 = 12 pens

How to Draw a Picture Graph

Apart from reading a picture graph, it is important for your children to draw a picture of a graph. They should be able to differentiate between all the parts of a picture graph and draw them in relation to each other.

Let’s see how to draw a picture graph as an example.

Here is the data showing the number of children who visited a library during the first three months of a year.

MonthNumber of Children

To represent this data on a pictograph, follow the given steps:

  • Think of a picture or a symbol to represent the children. 
  • Then, decide on a suitable scale to represent the number of children. On a scale of 10, each symbol or picture would represent 10 children. 
  • Mention the key (the scale used).

Here, in each category, the number of children is a multiple of 10. So, taking a scale of 10 would be convenient. We get the picture graph as:

Picture graph representing the number of children that visited a library

Benefits of Picture Graph for Kids

  • A picture graph uses symbols and pictures to represent data. It is an efficient way to present data and numerical information for young children. 
  • The visuals allow children to make sense of the information clearly and understand its meaning clearly.
  • Picture graphs are especially useful for visual learners as they provide a clear and intuitive way to understand and interpret data. 
  • They can be used in various contexts, such as in classrooms to teach data analysis and interpretation, or in real-life situations to represent information in a visually appealing and accessible manner.
  • They help children connect objects with numbers, making it easier to understand quantitative relationships.
  • Picture graphs make information more engaging and accessible for children, enhancing their understanding and retention.
  • Picture graphs offer a unique and entertaining way to present data, keeping children interested and motivated in learning.

Some Limitations of a Picture Graph

Parts of a symbol used do not give exact data in case of large numbers. It can only be used for data given in whole numbers majorly. It is not very useful for larger data that numbers in hundreds or thousands or more.

Picture Graph vs. Pictograph

Pre-K and Kindergarten students are often introduced to graphs using different pictures for each category. It has one to one representation for a key. For example, 4 apples are represented by 4 images of an apple , 2 bananas are represented by 2 images of a banana, etc. Such a graph which uses actual images to represent an item is termed as a picture graph.

On the other hand, a pictograph is considered as a graph that uses a symbol and a scale to represent an item. However, this small difference is often neglected when it comes to mathematics. All graphs with symbols or images are referred to as picture graphs or pictographs or pictograms or icon charts.

In summary, both picture graphs and pictographs use images or symbols to represent items in a visual way, making them engaging tools for young learners to understand data representation.

Facts about Picture Graphs

  • A picture graph is also known as a pictograph or pictogram.
  • They are also commonly used in various real-world applications, including marketing, advertising, and media, to present information in a visually appealing and easily understandable format.


In this article, we learned about picture graphs and their role in introducing data representation to young learners. Picture graphs use images to represent items, fostering one-to-one understanding. To reinforce our understanding, let’s tackle some examples and engage in MCQs for enhanced comprehension.

Solved Examples on Picture Graphs

1. Observe the picture graph representing the number of cakes sold by a bakery. How many cakes were sold by the bakery in three months?

Picture graph showing the number of cakes sold in three months


The pictograph uses the symbol of a cake to represent the number of cakes sold.

From the key, we have

1 whole cake represents 10 cakes.

Half a cake represents 5 cakes.

January: 3 Whole cakes and a half cake

Number of cakes sold = (3 × 10) + (1 × 5) = 30 + 5 = 35 cakes

February: 2 Whole cakes 

Number of cakes sold = (2 × 10) = 20 cakes

March: 1 Whole cake and a half 

Number of cakes sold = (1 × 10) + (1 × 5) = 10 + 5 = 15 cakes

Total number of cakes =sold over three months = 35 + 20 + 15  = 70 cakes

2. Draw a picture graph to represent the following information.

DayNumber of Children Absent in a Class


Here, we can choose the key as 1 symbol = 2 kids.

It will be easy to use since the given quantities or given numbers are all multiples of 2.

Here’s a picture graph representing the number of students absent in the classroom for a week.

Picture graph of number of students absent in a class

3. Make a pictograph representing the number of votes each flavor of pizza received from children.

Flavor of PizzaNumber of Children 


Choose the key as 1 Pizza symbol = 4 children.

1 slice = 1 child

2 slices = 3 children

3 slices = 3 children

Picture graph showing the number of votes different flavors of pizza received from children

Practice Problems on Picture Graphs

Picture Graph in Math - Definition, Facts, Examples, FAQs

Attend this quiz & Test your knowledge.


In a picture graph, 1 symbol represents 10 people. What quantity does the two and a half of the symbol represent?

Correct answer is: 25
1 symbol = 10 people
2 symbols = 20 people
Half symbol = 5 people
Two and a half symbol = 20 + 5 = 25 people

What is the total rainfall on Monday and Tuesday if 1 drop represents 4 inches of rainfall?

Picture Graph in Math – Definition, Facts, Examples, FAQs
54 inches
64 inches
40 inches
24 inches
Correct answer is: 64 inches
1 drop represents 4 inches of rainfall.
Number of symbols for Monday $= 10$
Total rainfall on Monday $= 10 \times 4 = 40$ inches
Number of symbols for Tuesday = 6
Total rainfall on Tuesday $= 6 \times 4 = 24$ inches
Total rainfall on Monday and Tuesday $= 40 + 24 = 64$ inches

The following graphs show information about the number of students present in a class. Determine the number of students present on Wednesday.

Picture Graph in Math – Definition, Facts, Examples, FAQs
Correct answer is: 30
Wednesday's row shows three figures, each representing 10 students, making the total number of students 30.

Frequently Asked Questions about Picture Graphs

The important elements of a picture graph are scale/key, axes/columns, and a title.

A picture graph represents numbers using symbols/images, whereas a bar graph represents using bars.

Ezra Pound is known to have invented picture graphs while testing his modernist poetic techniques.

Other kinds of graphs used in mathematics are bar graphs, area charts, pie charts, histograms, etc.

Yes, both scale and key are the same in a picture graph.