Excel Tutorial: How To Make A Log Graph In Excel 2016


When it comes to visualizing data, log graphs are an incredibly useful tool. They allow us to represent a wide range of values in a compact and easily understandable way, making it easier to spot trends and patterns in our data. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of creating a log graph in Excel 2016, step by step. By the end of this tutorial, you will have a solid understanding of how to use log graphs to effectively present your data.

Key Takeaways

  • Log graphs are a valuable tool for visualizing a wide range of values in a compact and understandable way.
  • Understanding logarithmic scales is essential for effectively representing data on a log graph.
  • Properly organizing and preparing data is crucial for creating accurate log graphs.
  • Excel 2016 provides a step-by-step process for creating and customizing log graphs.
  • Interpreting patterns and trends on a log graph can provide valuable insights into the data.

Understanding Logarithmic Scales

Logarithmic scales are a type of scale used in data representation that allows for a wide range of values to be displayed in a more compact and manageable way. Instead of representing each value linearly, a logarithmic scale represents each value as a power of a base number, typically 10. This means that as values increase, the spacing on the scale also increases exponentially, making it easier to visualize large ranges of data.

Explanation of logarithmic scales and their use in data representation

  • Logarithmic scales are based on the logarithm of a number, which is the exponent to which a base number must be raised to produce that number. In the case of a base 10 logarithmic scale, the value represents powers of 10.
  • Logarithmic scales are used to represent data that covers a wide range of values, particularly when the data has exponential growth or decay.
  • They are commonly used in scientific and engineering fields to visualize data such as earthquakes, sound levels, population growth, and more.

Examples of when log graphs are appropriate

  • When visualizing data that covers several orders of magnitude, such as earthquake magnitudes or decibel levels.
  • When comparing data that grows exponentially, such as population growth or the spread of a virus.
  • When representing data with a wide range of values that would be difficult to display on a linear scale without losing detail.

Preparing Data for a Log Graph

When creating a log graph in Excel 2016, it is essential to properly prepare your data to ensure accurate and meaningful representation. This involves organizing your data in a suitable format and ensuring that it is appropriate for logarithmic transformation.

A. Organizing data for log graphing
  • Arrange your data in columns, with each column representing a different variable or category that you want to plot on the graph.
  • Ensure that the data is arranged in a consistent manner and that there are no missing values or outliers that could affect the accuracy of the graph.
  • Label your data clearly to make it easy to understand and interpret when creating the log graph.

B. Ensuring data is suitable for logarithmic transformation
  • Check that your data is suitable for logarithmic transformation by examining the distribution of values and identifying any patterns that may indicate a non-linear relationship.
  • Verify that the data does not contain negative or zero values, as these cannot be plotted on a log scale.
  • Consider the purpose of the log graph and whether it is the most appropriate way to visualize your data, taking into account the potential distortion of the relationships between variables.

Creating a Log Graph in Excel 2016

Excel 2016 offers a variety of graph options, including the ability to create a log graph to effectively display data. Here's how to create a log graph in Excel 2016.

Step-by-step guide on selecting data and choosing the right graph type

To create a log graph in Excel 2016, start by selecting the data you want to include in the graph. This data should have both x and y-axis values. Once you have selected the data, follow these steps:

  • Insert a graph: Go to the "Insert" tab and click on the desired graph type, such as a line or scatter plot.
  • Choose the right graph type: After inserting the graph, right-click on the y-axis and select "Format Axis." In the format axis pane, check the "Logarithmic scale" option to convert the axis to a log scale.
  • Adjust axis options: You can further customize the graph by adjusting the axis options, such as minimum and maximum values, to ensure the data is displayed effectively on the log scale.

Customizing the log graph to display data effectively

Once you have created the log graph, it's important to customize it to effectively display your data. Here are some tips for customizing the log graph:

  • Labeling the axes: Make sure to clearly label the x and y-axis, and indicate that the y-axis is on a log scale to provide context for the viewer.
  • Adjusting data points: Depending on the distribution of your data, you may need to adjust the data points to better fit the log scale and ensure clarity in the graph.
  • Adding a trendline: Consider adding a trendline to the log graph to highlight patterns or trends in the data, and adjust the trendline options as needed for clarity.

Interpretation and Analysis of Log Graphs

Logarithmic graphs are a powerful tool for visualizing data that spans a wide range of values. Understanding the visual representation and interpreting patterns and trends on a log graph is essential for making informed decisions based on the data. In this tutorial, we will explore the key aspects of interpreting and analyzing log graphs in Excel 2016.

A. Understanding the visual representation of data on a log graph
  • Logarithmic scaling

    Logarithmic scaling on a graph compresses the data at the high end and expands it at the low end, allowing for a more comprehensive representation of the entire range of values.

  • Exponential relationship

    On a log graph, an exponential relationship between the variables is represented as a straight line, making it easier to identify and analyze such relationships.

  • Visualizing data distribution

    Log graphs can effectively visualize wide-ranging data distributions, making it easier to identify outliers and clusters within the data.

B. Interpreting patterns and trends on a log graph
  • Identifying exponential growth or decay

    A steep upward-sloping line on a log graph indicates exponential growth, while a steep downward-sloping line indicates exponential decay.

  • Understanding linear relationships

    On a log graph, data points that form a straight line indicate a linear relationship when the variables are transformed back to their original scale.

  • Comparing relative changes

    Log graphs allow for a clearer comparison of relative changes across the entire range of values, making it easier to identify percentage changes and growth rates.

Tips and Best Practices for Log Graphs

Creating log graphs in Excel 2016 can be a powerful tool for visualizing data, but it's important to ensure accuracy and clarity in the process. Here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind when creating log graphs:

A. Ensuring clarity and accuracy in log graphing
  • Choose the appropriate data:

    When selecting the data for your log graph, make sure to choose the appropriate dataset that is suitable for log transformation. Log graphs are best used when the data spans several orders of magnitude.
  • Label your axes properly:

    Ensure that the axes on your log graph are clearly labeled with the appropriate scale. This will help viewers interpret the data accurately.
  • Use consistent units:

    When plotting data on a log graph, ensure that the units across all data points are consistent. Inconsistent units can lead to misinterpretations of the graph.
  • Check for negative values:

    Be mindful of negative values when creating a log graph. Since logarithms of negative numbers are undefined, it's important to ensure that all data points are positive.

B. Avoiding common pitfalls in log graph creation
  • Avoid over-plotting:

    Over-plotting multiple data sets on a log graph can make it difficult to interpret the data. Consider using different colors or symbols to differentiate between multiple datasets.
  • Don't manipulate the scale:

    Avoid manipulating the scale of the log graph to exaggerate or minimize the differences between data points. This can lead to misinterpretation of the data.
  • Don't overcomplicate the graph:

    Keep your log graph as simple as possible to avoid overwhelming viewers with excessive information. Use clear and concise labels and limit the number of data points if possible.
  • Double-check your calculations:

    When transforming data for a log graph, double-check your calculations to ensure accuracy. Mistakes in log transformations can lead to misleading visual representations of the data.


In conclusion, log graphs are a valuable tool for visualizing data that spans a wide range of values, allowing for better understanding of exponential growth or decay. They are commonly used in scientific and engineering fields, as well as in financial analysis. We encourage you to experiment with creating log graphs in Excel 2016 to enhance your data visualization skills and gain valuable insights from your data. By mastering this technique, you can effectively communicate complex information and make informed decisions based on your analysis.

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