Trading Charts Explained: Learn How To Read Them

Learning to read trading charts is vital for becoming a profitable trader. This guide is designed to introduce beginners to various types of charts and their benefits. By understanding how to interpret charts, traders can better predict market movements, make informed decisions, and increase overall profitability. We’ll also explore top platforms offering these charts to save you time researching.

Trading Charts Explained: Learn How to Read Them
Key Facts Trading Charts
  • Trading charts visually represent financial market data, helping traders make informed decisions by identifying trends and patterns.
  • There are various types of trading charts, including candlestick, line, bar, and Heikin Ashi, each offering unique insights for predicting price movements.
  • Beginners can learn to read charts by analyzing candlestick formations, trend lines, and applying technical indicators to spot trading opportunities.
  • Top charting platforms like MetaTrader, XTB, and Capital.com provide powerful tools for market analysis, with options for both free and paid services.
  • Effective chart analysis involves choosing the right chart type and timeframe to align with trading strategies, whether for quick day trades or long-term investments.

Definition: What Is a Chart in Trading?

A trading chart is a graphical tool that displays the price history of a financial asset over time, enabling traders to analyze market trends visually. It converts complex market data into a format that’s easier to understand, showing how prices have fluctuated within a specific timeframe. This essential tool helps traders make informed decisions by highlighting price movements and volatility.

The primary function of a trading chart is to aid traders in identifying patterns and trends in the market, helping predict future price movements. It allows for applying various analytical techniques, including technical indicators and pattern recognition, which can guide trading strategies.

Advantages of Trading Charts

AdvantageExplanation
Visual Representation of DataCharts provide a clear and immediate visual representation of market data, making it easy to identify trends and patterns.
Time EfficiencyQuickly analyze historical and current price movements to make informed decisions without sifting through vast amounts of data.
Identification of TrendsCharts make it easier to spot trends.
Predict Future Price MovementsWith technical analysis tools, charts can help predict future price movements based on historical data.
Real-Time AnalysisEnables traders to analyze live market data and make better trading decisions.
Identifying Entry and Exit PointsCharts provide clear signals for potential entry and exit points based on technical analysis.
Integration with Trading PlatformsEasy to customize trading platforms and integrate the trading charts you need.
Strategy TestingAllows traders to test trading strategies against historical data before applying them in live markets.
Access to Various TimeframesTraders can view different timeframes, from minutes to months, to suit various trading styles and strategies. 
Enhances Risk ManagementCharts can enhance risk management strategies by identifying potential reversal points and volatility.

List of the Best Trading Charts

In trading, different chart types provide unique insights into market behavior, helping traders make informed decisions. Each chart type offers a distinct way to visualize price movements, trends, and patterns. Understanding how each price chart functions is essential for anyone looking to utilize them in trading. Let’s explore the most popular trading charts.

Candlestick Chart

Trading Charts Candlestick Chart
Candlestick chart – source: TradingView

Candlestick charts are among the most popular for traders due to their comprehensive depiction of price action. Each candlestick shows the open, high, low, and close prices for a specific period. The body of the candlestick indicates the opening and closing prices, while the wicks represent the high and low.

Candlestick patterns, such as dojis, hammers, and engulfing candles, provide valuable insights into market sentiment, trend reversals, and continuations.

Line Chart

The line chart is the simplest form of a trading chart, drawn by connecting closing prices over a specified period. This chart type is best suited for identifying general trends over time, as it filters out the noise of intra-period price movements. Its simplicity makes it an excellent starting point for beginner traders, offering a clear view of how an asset’s price has moved.

Trading Charts Line Chart
Line chart – source: TradingView

Bar Chart

Trading Charts Bar Chart
Bar chart – source: TradingView

Bar charts provide a detailed view of price movements within a trading period. Each bar represents the open, high, low, and close prices. The top of the bar shows the highest price paid, while the bottom indicates the lowest price. A horizontal slash on the left side of a bar shows the opening price, and one on the right side shows the closing price. Bar charts are versatile, offering insights into the volatility and direction of price movements.

Heikin Ashi

Trading Charts Heikin Ashi Chart
Heikin Ashi chart – source: TradingView

Heikin Ashi charts filter out market noise and help identify market trends better. Unlike traditional candlestick charts, each candle in a Heikin Ashi chart is calculated using a combination of current and previous period prices. This results in a smoother chart, making identifying bullish or bearish price trends easier. Heikin Ashi charts are useful for traders looking to hold mid to long-term positions.

Tick Chart

Trading Charts Tick Chart
Tick chart – source: TradingView

Tick charts are unique because they are not based on a fixed time interval but on transactions. Each tick represents a trade, regardless of volume. This means tick charts will produce more bars during high trading activity than during quieter periods. Tick charts are favored by day traders for their ability to provide a granular view of price movements and market volatility.

Footprint Chart

Footprint charts provide a detailed view of market data, combining price action, volume, and time within each bar or candlestick. This chart reveals not only where the price has moved but also the volume at each price level, offering insights into market sentiment and trader behavior at specific price points. Footprint charts are great for spotting support, resistance areas, and order flow imbalance.

Volume Chart

Trading Charts Volume Charts
Volume chart – source: TradingView

Volume charts display the number of shares or contracts traded for a financial instrument over a specific period. Unlike traditional price charts, volume charts highlight trading activity levels, providing insights into the strength of price movements. High volume indicates strong interest in the asset and can be a precursor to significant price changes. Traders use volume charts to confirm trends identified using other chart types, as rising prices accompanied by increasing volume can confirm a bullish trend, while falling prices with increasing volume might indicate a bearish trend.

Renko Chart

Trading Charts Renko Chart
Renko chart – source: TradingView

Renko charts focus on price movement, ignoring time and volume, which helps to eliminate minor price fluctuations and market noise. Each “brick” represents a movement of a fixed amount of pips and only appears when the price moves by that amount. Bricks are placed at 45-degree angles from each other and are either filled or colored differently to indicate the direction of the market movement. Renko charts are useful for traders looking to spot bigger trends as they filter out small price movements.

Range Chart

Trading Charts Range Chart
Range chart – source: TradingView

Range charts depict price movements in predefined price ranges, independent of time. Each bar on a range chart shows a specific price movement, and a new bar is drawn once the price moves outside the current range. This method effectively filters out minor fluctuations, focusing on significant price movements. These charts are great for highlighting consolidation patterns and breakout opportunities, making them useful for identifying potential entry and exit points.

Point and Figure Charts

Trading Charts Point and Figure Chart
Point & Figure chart – source: TradingView

Point and figure charts are designed to emphasize significant price movements, disregarding timeframes and volume. This type of chart consists of columns of Xs and Os, with Xs representing rising prices and Os showing falling prices. The chart changes direction when prices move a certain amount in the opposite direction. Point and figure charts help identify support and resistance levels, trend directions, and chart patterns, making them a powerful tool for long-term trading.

How to Read Trading Charts

For beginners looking to understand how to read trading charts, here’s a straightforward guide:

  1. Chart Selection: For this guide, we’ll use a candlestick chart, as it provides detailed information on price movements within a given timeframe. It’s also the easiest to read for beginners.
  2. Analyze Candlesticks: Each candlestick shows the opening price at the beginning, the closing price at the end, and the highest and lowest prices during the interval. A candlestick is filled or colored if the closing price is lower than the opening price (often red), and it’s empty or a different color if the closing price is higher than the opening price (often green).
  3. Identify Trend Lines: Draw trend lines by connecting the lows in an uptrend or the highs in a downtrend. These lines help visualize the overall direction of the market movement.
  4. Spot Support and Resistance Levels: Support levels are where the price tends to find a floor, and resistance levels are where the price seems to hit a ceiling. These are identified by horizontal lines where the price has reversed multiple times in the past.
  5. Look for Patterns: Recognize basic chart patterns that signal future price movements. Patterns like head and shoulders, double top and double bottom, and triangles are fundamental patterns to understand.
  6. Apply Technical Indicators: Use simple indicators like moving averages to smooth out price data over a specific period and identify the trend direction. The relative strength index can also help by spotting oversold or overbought conditions.
  7. Read the Volume: Volume bars located at the bottom of the chart indicate the number of shares traded during a specific timeframe. Increasing volume confirms the strength of a trend, whereas decreasing volume might suggest a weakening trend.
  8. Observe Timeframes: Adjust the chart’s timeframe to fit your trading style. Short-term trades might look at minutes or hours, while long-term trades analyze daily to monthly charts.
  9. Consolidate Information: Combine all observed elements – candlestick patterns, trendlines, volume, and technical indicators to make an informed analysis of potential price movement.

Charting Software and Tools

Charting software and tools are essential for trading to analyze market data, identify trends, and execute trades based on the given information. They vary in complexity, offering a range of features from basic charting and technical analysis to advanced automation. Here’s a look at some of the top tools and software to use for trading.

MetaTrader

Trading Charts MT4
MT4

MetaTrader 4 (MT4) offers robust charting tools essential for analyzing financial markets. Its interface allows traders to view and analyze multiple charts simultaneously, each customizable with various timeframes ranging from one minute to one month. MT4 supports over 30 built-in technical indicators and 31 graphical objects, enabling detailed market analysis. The platform’s charting flexibility is enhanced by the ability to create custom indicators and use analytical tools in real time.

Trading Charts MT5
MT5

MetaTrader 5 (MT5) expands on MT4’s charting capabilities, introducing more advanced tools and features. It offers 38 technical indicators, 44 graphical objects, and 21 timeframes, providing more market analysis. MT5 also includes an economic calendar directly integrated into the charting area, allowing traders to anticipate market movements based on economic events. The platform supports additional types of orders and execution modes, giving traders greater control.

Both MT4 and MT5 feature a strategy tester to backtest and optimize trading strategies using historical data. The ability to customize chart templates and profiles, along with the option to purchase or rent additional tools from the MetaTrader market, makes this platform highly adaptable to any trading strategy focused on chart analysis.

XTB

Trading Charts XTB xStation
XTB xStation 5

XTB’s xStation 5 platform features a user-friendly interface that doesn’t compromise on depth and functionality in charting. It provides traders real-time performance statistics and supports over 20 chart analysis tools. The platform also supports decades of price history and includes advanced charting capabilities with fast execution speeds, making it suitable for all trading styles. 

The charting software within xStation 5 includes a wide range of technical indicators and graphical objects, facilitating detailed market analysis. Traders can use multiple chart types, apply analytical objects, and compare various instruments on the same chart to make better trading decisions.

Moreover, the platform features one-click trading directly from the chart and provides alerts on price movements, news, and events, keeping traders up-to-date with market changes. One of the standout features of xStation 5 is its performance analytics section, which helps traders review their history. This allows traders to see the effectiveness of their strategies and make adjustments when needed.

Capital.com

Trading Charts Capital.com
Capital.com

The Capital.com web trading platform is designed with a clear emphasis on usability and advanced charting functionality. It integrates seamlessly with TradingView, one of the most popular and powerful charting technologies available. This partnership ensures traders access a wide range of tools and indicators within their web browsers.

Charting on Capital.com’s web platform features an extensive selection of over 75 technical indicators, numerous chart types, and drawing tools. Traders can easily customize charts to match their analysis preferences, from simple line charts for trend identification to more complex candlestick and bar charts for in-depth price action analysis. 

The platform also allows for multiple timeframes, ranging from seconds to months, catering to various trading strategies. Additionally, Capital.com offers an economic calendar and real-time news feed directly integrated into the charting interface. This means traders can monitor market-moving events and news updates while analyzing charts.

Capital.com is our top choice for educational content, as it features the basics of trading, courses, and strategy guides. Beginners can learn how to read different types of charts using the educational material and test out what they’ve learned using the demo account.

ATAS

Trading Charts ATAS
ATAS

ATAS is a professional trading and analytical platform known for its order flow and useful trading tools. It caters primarily to professional traders focusing on futures, stocks, and cryptocurrencies. ATAS stands out for its detailed approach to market data, providing insights that go beyond traditional technical analysis.

The platform features sophisticated charting tools designed to analyze markets efficiently. Traders can access various unique chart types, including order flow, volume profile, and market profile. Currently, ATAS offers over 240 technical indicators and 70 volume analysis tools.

Furthermore, ATAS excels in its customization capabilities. Traders can change the indicators, charts, and information shown according to their trading needs. The platform offers a 14-day trial so new traders at ATAS can test the software before committing.

Understanding Timeframes in Charts

Timeframes in trading charts represent the duration each data point or candlestick covers. They allow traders to view market movements over their chosen period, offering insights tailored to different trading strategies. Choosing the correct timeframe is crucial for aligning analysis with trading goals, as it affects the visibility of trends, market noise, and potential trading opportunities.

Short-term Timeframes

Trading Charts Short-Term Timeframe
Short-term timeframe (15 minutes) – source: TradingView

Short-term timeframes, such as 1-minute to 15-minute charts, are typically used by day traders and scalpers who aim to capitalize on quick, small movements in the market. These charts provide a granular view of price action, allowing for the identification of short-lived trends and potential entry and exit points within the same trading day. 

The key advantage is making quick decisions based on real-time data. However, these timeframes can also present a higher level of noise, making it challenging to distinguish between significant market movements and normal fluctuations.

Medium-term Timeframes

Trading Charts Medium-Term Timeframe
Short-term timeframe (1 hour) – source: TradingView

Medium-term timeframes, such as 1-hour to 4-hour charts, strike a balance between the detailed view offered by short-term timeframes and the broader perspective of long-term timeframes. They are preferred by swing traders looking to capture trends that unfold over several days to a few weeks. 

These charts offer clearer insights into market trends, reducing the noise seen in shorter timeframes and providing a more accurate analysis of potential price movements. Medium-term timeframes are useful for identifying sustained market directions and are less affected by short-term volatility.

Long-term Timeframes

Trading Charts Long-Term Timeframe
Long-term timeframe (1 month) – source: TradingView

Long-term timeframes, including daily, weekly, and monthly charts, are favored by long-term investors focused on capturing major market trends. These charts provide a comprehensive overview of market sentiment, highlighting underlying trends. Long-term timeframes are essential for understanding the broader market context, including key support and resistance levels, major trend reversals, and long-term price patterns. 

While they offer a clearer, more stable view of the market, they require patience and a longer-term perspective, as trades based on these charts may take weeks, months, or even years to unfold.

Methods for Chart Analysis

Two fundamental approaches are used to understand market signals and forecast potential price movements: technical analysis and the study of chart patterns. These methods equip traders with a framework for understanding market trends, sentiment, and potential turning points. Below, we’ll briefly outline these approaches, but for a comprehensive understanding, we recommend exploring dedicated resources on chart patterns and technical analysis.

Technical Analysis

Trading Charts Technical Analysis
technical analysis (Bollinger Bands) – source: TradingView

Technical analysis involves analyzing historical market data, including price and volume, to forecast future price movements. It utilizes various mathematical indicators and models to identify trends, support and resistance levels, and other market behaviors. Key tools in technical analysis include trend indicators like moving averages, momentum indicators like the Relative Strength Index (RSI), and volatility indicators such as Bollinger Bands. Each of these tools helps traders make more informed decisions by providing insights into market dynamics.

Chart Patterns

Chart patterns are specific formations created by price movements on a chart and are considered predictive of future price movement. Common patterns include the head and shoulders, which indicate a reversal; triangles, which can signal continuation or reversal depending on their type (ascending, descending, or symmetrical); and flags and pennants, which typically indicate continuation. Learning to recognize these patterns gives traders a significant advantage, as they can signal potential market movements before they occur.

Free vs. Paid Charts

When it comes to trading, choosing between free and paid charting can significantly impact your analysis and overall trading strategy. Each option has its merits and drawbacks, catering to different types of traders based on their needs, experience levels, and resources.

Free Charts

Free charting tools are widely accessible through brokerage platforms, financial news websites, and standalone charting applications. These tools typically offer basic chart types, such as line, bar, and candlestick charts, along with a standard set of indicators like moving averages and RSI. Free charts are an excellent starting point for beginners to familiarize themselves with technical analysis and for traders who maintain a minimal approach to market analysis. 

Trading Charts Free Charts
TradingView limitates the accessable trading charts within its free version

However, the limitations of free charts become apparent with their often-delayed data, fewer customization options, and limited historical data access. For casual traders and those still learning, these drawbacks may be negligible compared to the cost savings.

Paid Charts

Paid charting is for more serious traders who require real-time data, comprehensive analysis tools, and advanced customization capabilities. These platforms offer a wider range of chart types, including more sophisticated options like Renko, Point & Figure, and Market Profile charts. Also, those interested in futures always incur costs due to the real-time data required to make trades. Otherwise, the information given is delayed, which can impact profitability.

Additionally, they come equipped with a vast library of indicators, extensive historical data, and the ability to integrate with trading software for executing trades directly from charts. Paid charts also often provide higher-quality data feeds for accurate analysis and decision-making in fast-moving markets. While the cost can be a barrier for some, the investment may be justified for those relying on trading as a significant income source or for managing large investment portfolios.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding and effectively using trading charts is essential for becoming a successful trader. They can help predict future price movements and allow you to set trading positions accordingly. We’ve covered the important aspects of trading charts, such as how to read them, the different types available, and whether you should use free or paid charts. Consider taking a course to expand your knowledge on Witzel Trading, which covers analyzing and using charts to your advantage.

Frequently asked questions on Trading Charts:

What Is the Most Used Trading Chart?

The candlestick chart is the most commonly used chart by traders because it shows open, high, low, and close prices in a visual format. Its popularity stems from the information it provides, making it easy to spot market trends and potential reversals.

Is It Better to Trade the Daily Chart?

Yes, trading the daily chart is often better for viewing longer-term trends and minimizing the impact of daily market noise. However, the type of chart you use should depend on the strategy you implement.

Which Is the Best Chart for Trading?

The “best” chart for trading depends on the trader’s strategy and goals; candlestick charts are highly regarded for their detailed information and visual representation of market sentiment. However, the choice can vary, with some traders preferring simpler line charts or more detailed bar charts for specific analyses.

Which Timeframe Is Best for Trading?

The ideal timeframe depends on trading styles and strategy. Day traders might prefer minute or hourly charts for quick decisions, while long-term investors might lean towards daily or weekly charts to understand broader market trends.

Can You Trade Without Looking at Charts?

Yes, it’s possible to trade based on fundamental analysis or automated trading signals without directly looking at charts. However, charts are essential for traders as they provide critical visual cues about market trends and potential price movements. If you trade without charts, you’ll miss critical data that could help you make trading decisions.

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