How to plot a log scale

Written by colin mcgrath
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How to plot a log scale
Log scales simplify plots of rapidly increasing data. (pencil draw graph image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

Log scales are useful if you are attempting to plot data where one variable changes slowly and the other changes very rapidly. For example, if you were plotting the speed of a rocket launch over time, the time would be constant but the speed would be rapidly increasing. A log scale would be useful in this scenario to allow you to have a balanced plot but still convey the appropriate data. Log scales are plotted much in the same way a regular scale is plotted.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Graph paper
  • Pencil

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  1. 1

    Draw an x-axis and a y-axis on your graph paper just like you would making a normal plot.

  2. 2

    Number your x-scale from zero to ten in steps of one (0,1,2,...,10). In our example of plotting the speed of a rocket during take-off, this will be your timescale in units of minutes.

  3. 3

    Number your y-scale from zero to 100,000 in a logarithmic scale (0,1,10,100,1,000,10,000,100,000). For the example, this axis will be measuring speed in units of feet per second.

  4. 4

    Plot the data points on your graph with your pencil. If you had used a standard scale the graph would rapidly be curving upward in an exponential manner. With a log scale plot, the graph looks much more linear.

Tips and warnings

  • Applying a log scale to any data that has exponential tendencies will make it much easier to plot by making the graph linear.

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