This tutorial explains how to set up charts in the ThinkorSwim Trading Platform by TD Ameritrade. By the end of this article, you should be able to understand how to configure charts and fit them to your trading style.
Here, you will be described all the most important features you can find in the “Chart Settings” section. I recommend following carefully this guide and, in the meantime, practicing on ThinkorSwim all the features described.
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Understanding Options Trading Potential
To set up your chart in ThinkorSwim, go straight to the “Charts” Tab, type in a ticker (e.g. SPY – S&P 500 ETF) and then, on the top of the chart, click on the little wrench, that represents a shortcut to the Chart Settings feature. It will appear a window made up of several sections.
Section 1 – General
In the first sub-section “Content”, you can choose to have displayed in all your charts the following information: orders, alerts, studies, last price, and high/low of the period.
In the second sub-section “Settings”, the most important feature is called layout. If you rather prefer to have the stock volume directly in your chart, you have to tick on Overlapped Volume. If you prefer to see your studies in the same cell on the bottom of your chart, you should tick on Superimpose Lower Studies.
Section 2 – Scale & Axis
In the first sub-section “Price Axis”, you can literally set the scale of your chart. I advise to keep it on Auto Scale. This is important to know because if you, to better visualize the chart, have previously changed its size making it larger or narrower, your chart will automatically pass from Auto Scale to Manual Scale. In such a case, you need to go to your chart settings menu and change it again to Auto Scale coming back to the original setup.
Expansion: set it to 10 and make sure that corporate actions, options and studies are flagged. This allows you to have a clear space at the end of your chart and check the next earnings reports and dividends.
Section 3 – Appearance
Here you can select the “Chart Appearance” you like the most choosing among several kinds of chart types (Bar, Candle, Candle Trend, Heikin Ashi, Line and Area). The kind of chart I rather prefer and strongly recommend is the candle, because it better shows buyers and sellers intention giving deeper information of the market’s strengths and weaknesses. From here, you can decide the color of bullish, bearish, doji and volume bars.
Bullish Bars: the open price is lower than the price at the end of the day. I recommend setting the green color for bullish bars.
Bearish Bars: the open price is higher than the price at the end of the day. I recommend setting the red color for bearish bars.
Doji Bars: the open price is the same than the price at the end of the day. You can set a gray color for doji Bars.
From the bottom of the “Appearance” window, you can change the color of the chart background and choose to turn off or on the background grid on your chart. I personally like the grid on, because you can easily check the price levels.
Section 4 – Equities
In this section, you can choose to have displayed additional information related to the stock.
Corporate Actions – You can have shown corporate actions such as Earnings and Dividends directly in your chart. This is such an important piece of information, because it allows you to plan your investing strategy according to corporate actions. That is why it is fundamental to have them on your chart.
CNBC videos – You can have CNBC videos directly showed on your chart. This allows you to get up to date about important news related to interesting stock visualizing them directly on your chart. Simply click the right button of your mouse on a specific CNBC symbol on your chart and click Show News or Open News URL to watch straight the corresponding CNBC video on your ThinkorSwim platform.
Options and Volume – You can choose to have options’ strikes showed directly on the chart and even hide the volume grid from your chart.
Section 5, 6, 7 – Options, Futures, Forex
In these sections, you can select settings that can be only applied to charts related to specific products. For each option, future or currency, you can select additional information to add to your chart.
On each of the sections above mentioned, you can set shortcuts. For instance, if you click again on “Chart Settings” and then “General”, you will see, next to each feature, some little arrows pointing towards the top. If you click on any of it and then push apply, then you will be creating a shortcut to that feature directly on the “Style” menu. You can create shortcuts for any feature that contains that little arrow.
When you finish to set up your “Chart Settings”, you just need to click on apply and ok and all your new settings will be confirmed. If you want, you can even visualize the effect of your change before confirming it by clicking on apply and looking at the effect on your chart. If you like, you can then confirm or change it back.