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Basics on the topic Pictograms

Pictograms – Definition

What is a pictogram? A pictogram is a type of graph that uses pictures to represent and sort information into categories. The value of one picture can represent more than one item. This allows the graph to show more information at once. Let’s learn more about pictograms below as well as finding out how to draw a pictogram.

Drawing a pictogram

We start drawing a scaled pictogram by identifying our data set. This is the information that we organise and display in the graph. It is important to give this data a name to explain what it represents. This name becomes the title of our graph and will tell our readers what it is about.

Next, we sort the data set into categories. Each category becomes one row in our graph. If we have three categories, we will need three rows in the graph. Each row is also labelled with the name of the category on the scaled pictogram.

Afterwards, we choose a picture, or image, to represent the data. Because we are making a scaled pictogram, one picture will represent more than one data point. We decide the value of one picture by looking for common factors in the data set. For example, if most of the numbers in the set can be made counting in twos, the common factor would be two! Once we have determined our common factor, we write this information in the pictogram key. This tells our readers the value of each picture in the scaled graph.

The last step is displaying the set of data in the scaled pictogram. Going row by row, we draw the correct number of pictures for each category. It is important to use the interval written in the key so that each row has the right number of pictures. If we have ten data points in the first row and our scale is one picture equals two, we divide ten by two. This tells us we need five pictures to represent the data in that row.

Pictograms – Example

Below are scaled pictogram pictures. The first set of pictures shows a pictogram with a key of two. The second set of pictures shows a pictogram with a key of three.

24999_line_12.jpeg 24999_line_15.jpeg 24999_line_16.jpeg 24999_line_17.jpeg

24999_line_23.jpeg 24999_line_25.jpeg 24999_line_30.jpeg

Creating a simple pictogram – Summary of Steps

Sometimes, it can be helpful to display data in pictograms. To make representing different items in the same data set easier, you can use pictures to display data in . These are the steps to keep in mind when creating a scaled picture graph.

  • When drawing a pictogram chart, first identify and name thedata set.
  • Then, sort the data into categories and draw the chart.
  • Next, define the scaled pictures by looking for common factors and note it with a key.
  • Finally, plot the data into the graph according to the key’s scale.

Looking for more pictogram questions and pictogram activities? On this website, you can also find scaled pictogram worksheets and interactive exercises for KS1.

Transcript Pictograms

"What IS that?"

"I don't know, it's not the honey."

"Hmm, you know, might be our washing. It's probably time to change into a new set of clothes anyway."

"I can't believe it all fit."

"But how will we sort it all?!"

"We could make a scaled picture graph or pictogram to help us organize our clean clothes."

Drawing a Scaled Pictogram

A pictogram is a chart that uses pictures to represent and sort information into categories. Pictogram means picture graph! In a SCALED pictogram, the value of one picture represents MORE THAN one item so we can see a lot of information at once. To start our first pictogram, we'll need to find ALL of Nari's clean clothes in that pile. This is called our DATA SET! Next, we need to give this graph a name. Since the data set includes all of Nari's clean washing, let's call it, "Nari's Clothes" Next, we sort and count Nari's clothes into categories like t-shirts, trousers, and pajamas. These three categories let us know we need to draw three rows in our graph. Now, we'll make a key for our picture graph using a hanger to represent our clothing items. REMEMBER, we are making a SCALED pictogram so one hanger represents MORE THAN one piece of clothing.
Let's add a key at the bottom of the graph to tell readers that each hanger will represent TWO pieces of clothing, because most of the data can be made counting in 2s. We can also say they are multiples of two. Finally, it's time to fill in our pictogram! Remember, each hanger represents TWO pieces of clothing and Nari has SIX t-shirts. Let's count together in two's. Two, four, six. So, we'll need to put THREE hangers in the t-shirts row because two goes into six THREE times. Let's do the same thing for his trousers! How many times does two go into four? Two goes into four two times so that means we will need two hangers in the trousers row. Let's be careful with our three pajamas though because two does NOT go evenly into three. One hanger represents two pajamas, so we can use HALF a hanger to represent the one left over. Now that Nari's scaled pictogram is complete, we should help Gus! Our new data set is all of Gus's clean clothes. What should we title this graph? "Gus's Clothes" since it's HIS clean washing. Next, we sort and count Gus's clothes into t-shirts, trousers, and pajamas. Then, we draw the chart for our graph and add our labels. This time let's pick a peg to represent our clothing items. REMEMBER, we are making a SCALED pictogram so one peg represents MORE THAN one piece of clothing.
Gus has SIX t-shirts, NINE pairs of trousers and THREE pajamas so how many items could one peg represent? All of those numbers are multiples of three, so one peg will represent three pieces of clothing. Now we're ready to fill in his graph! Gus has six t-shirts and three goes into six two times. We will put two pegs in that row. Now let's repeat this for the rest. Gus has nine pairs of trousers and three goes into nine THREE times. We will need THREE pegs next to the trousers label.
How many pegs will we need for Gus's three pajamas? We will use one peg because one peg represents three items of clothing. Look! All of their clothes are sorted and organized, but before we see what Nari and Gus put on, let's remember!

"When drawing a scaled pictogram, first identify and name your data set."

Then, sort your “data” into categories and draw your chart.

Next, define your scaled symbols by looking for common multiples and note it with a key. Finally, plot your data into the graph according to your key. "Great work today, Gus; let's put on our fresh, clean clothes!" "Ahhhhh, so comfy!" "I dunno, Nari, feels a bit tight."

Pictograms exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Pictograms.
  • Can you find the pictograms?


    Does it have pictures or symbols that represent an amount?

    Is it laid out like a chart?


    These are the pictograms!

    A pictogram represents sets of data in the form of pictures using a scale.

  • Can you use the pictogram to answer the questions?


    Check the scale. How many items of clothes does each coat hanger represent?

    Compare the rows. There is one more coat hanger on the t-shirt row compared to the trousers row, so how many more t-shirts are there?


    Each coat hanger represents two items of clothing. We need to count in twos to find out how many items of clothing there are - six t-shirts and four pairs of trousers.

    There is half a hanger on the pyjamas row which represents one item of clothing, as half of two is one. So there are three pairs of pyjamas.

    There is one more hanger on the t-shirts row compared to the trousers row, therefore there are two more t-shirts than pairs of trousers.

    There is half a hanger more on the trousers row compared to the pyjamas row, therefore there is one more pair of trousers than pyjamas.

  • Can you fill in the correct data?


    Try counting in fives.

    If there were six shopping baskets in a row, we could find out how many pieces of fruit that represents in two ways:

    • We could work out 6 x 5 as each basket represents five items. 6 x 5 = 30.
    • We could use repeated addition: 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 30.


    Remember, each shopping basket is worth five items so if you count in fives, you reach the above totals.


    • Strawberries - 5 x 5 = 25
    • Oranges - 2 x 5 = 10
    • Apples - 4 x 5 = 20
    • Bananas - 3 x 5 = 15
  • Can you match the correct pairs?


    If one football is worth 4 items of clothing, how much is half a football worth?

    Half a football is worth two items of clothing.

    Try counting in steps of four.


    Here are the answers.


    • One football is worth four items of clothing;
    • So half a football is worth two items of clothing.
    Gus and Nari washed:

    • 10 football shirts (4 + 4 + 2 = 10)
    • 12 pairs of shorts (4 + 4 + 4 = 12)
    • 20 socks (4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 20)
    • 14 hoodies (4 + 4 + 4 + 2 = 14)
  • Can you fill in the blanks using the pictogram to help you?


    Remember each coat hanger represents two clothing items.

    Count in steps of two to help you.

    If there were three coat hangers, we would need to work out three lots of two as each coat hanger is worth two items of clothing.

    • We could work out 3 x 2 which equals 6.
    • Or we could use repeated addition: 2 + 2 + 2 = 6.


    Each coat hanger represents two items, therefore there are:

    • Eight short-sleeved shirts (4 x 2 = 8)
    • Ten socks (5 x 2 = 10)
    • Four jumpers (2 x 2 = 4)
  • Can you check Gus and Nari's new pictogram is correct?


    If one coat hanger is ten clothing items, then half a coat hanger equals five clothing items.

    For example, if we had two and a half coat hangers this would equal 25 clothing items.


    Above is the correct pictogram with the right number of coat hangers. The sock and jumper are highlighted as they had the incorrect number of coat hangers.


    • The shirts were correct.
    • The sock should have had four coat hangers next to it.
    • The jumper should have had two and a half coat hangers next to it.
    • The vests were correct.