How to Make Log Scale in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Making a log scale in Excel is a great way to visualize data with a wide range of values. It’s simple to do: just select your data, go to the ‘Format Axis’ option, and choose the ‘Logarithmic scale’ box. This will instantly transform your chart to a log scale, making it easier to interpret data that varies exponentially.

After you complete this action, your data will be displayed on a logarithmic scale. This can be particularly helpful when dealing with data that spans several orders of magnitude, as it can make patterns and trends more apparent than they would be on a linear scale.


When you’re dealing with a large set of numbers that vary greatly—think earthquake magnitudes, pH levels, or the brightness of stars—it can be tough to make sense of that data on a standard, linear graph. Enter the log scale, a nifty tool that can transform your Excel charts from “huh?” to “aha!” But wait—why is this important? Well, for one, it’s about accuracy. Data that spans multiple orders of magnitude can be masked on a linear scale, hiding the true nature of the information you’re trying to present. And who needs this?

Scientists, engineers, economists, and data analysts are just a few examples of professionals who benefit from log scales daily. But honestly, anyone who loves to dig deep into data can get a kick out of this feature. Let’s dive in and turn those overwhelming datasets into eye-opening insights!

Step by step tutorial on How to Make Log Scale in Excel

The steps below will guide you through how to create a log scale chart in Excel, allowing for better visualization of data where values vary exponentially.

Step 1: Select your data

Select the data that you want to plot on a log scale.

When selecting your data, make sure to include both the series of numbers you want to plot and their corresponding values. This will ensure that Excel understands what to put on the X and Y axes of your chart.

Step 2: Insert a chart

With your data selected, insert a chart by going to the ‘Insert’ tab and choosing the type of chart you want.

Choosing the right type of chart is crucial. Line and scatter plots work well with log scales, but bar charts? Not so much. Think about the story you want your data to tell and pick the chart that does that best.

Step 3: Format the axis

Once your chart is created, right-click on the vertical axis and select ‘Format Axis’ from the dropdown menu.

This is where the magic happens. ‘Format Axis’ is the gateway to adjusting the scale of your chart, so make sure you’ve got the right axis selected before you proceed.

Step 4: Choose the ‘Logarithmic scale’ option

In the ‘Format Axis’ menu, check the ‘Logarithmic scale’ option to apply a log scale to your chart.

This step transforms the way your data is displayed by spacing the axis marks according to the powers of a chosen base number—most commonly 10. It’s a game-changer for data visualization.


Enhanced data visualizationApplying a log scale can reveal patterns and relationships in data that would be difficult to see with a linear scale. It’s particularly useful for emphasizing growth rates and comparing relative changes.
Better handling of wide-ranging dataLog scales are perfect for datasets with a large range of values, allowing them to be displayed in a more manageable and understandable way.
Improved accuracyUsing a log scale can provide a more accurate representation of certain types of data, keeping the integrity of the information intact.


Limited data typesLog scales aren’t suitable for negative or zero values, which can limit their application in some datasets.
Potential for misinterpretationIf not clearly labeled, log scales can be misleading to those unfamiliar with them, potentially leading to incorrect conclusions about the data.
Learning curveFor those new to log scales, there can be a learning curve in both creating and interpreting these charts.

Additional Information

When working with log scales in Excel, there are a few more things to keep in mind. First off, remember that you can’t use zero or negative numbers—a log of zero or a negative number is undefined. Also, while the default base for a log scale in Excel is 10, you can actually change this to any base you need. And don’t forget about labeling! Always make sure your charts are clearly marked as log scales to avoid confusion.

Another pro tip: consider using a semi-log plot where only one axis is on a logarithmic scale if that suits your data better. Lastly, while Excel is a powerful tool, sometimes you might need additional software for more complex data analysis, so don’t be afraid to explore other options.


  1. Select your data.
  2. Insert a chart.
  3. Format the axis.
  4. Choose ‘Logarithmic scale’ option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a log scale for any type of data?

A log scale works best for data that varies exponentially or over several orders of magnitude. It’s not suitable for negative or zero values.

What is the default base for a log scale in Excel?

The default base for a log scale in Excel is base 10, but you can change this to any base you require.

Can I use a log scale on both axes of a chart?

Yes, you can apply a log scale to both the X and Y axes, or just one, depending on your data needs.

How do I change the base of a log scale in Excel?

In the ‘Format Axis’ menu, you can find the option to change the base of the log scale under the ‘Logarithmic scale base’ section.

Is a log scale the same as a nonlinear scale?

While both log and nonlinear scales involve non-uniform spacing, a log scale is specifically related to logarithmic transformations, whereas a nonlinear scale can include various transformations.


In the world of data visualization, making a log scale in Excel is like having a flashlight in a dark room—it illuminates the hidden corners and brings clarity to the seemingly obscure. Whether you’re a seasoned data analyst or a curious Excel enthusiast, mastering log scales will elevate your chart game to new heights.

So, experiment with it, get comfortable, and watch as complex datasets unravel into compelling stories on your screen. Remember, the power of a well-presented chart can often be the difference between insight and oversight. Happy charting!

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