Learn To Recognize the Most Popular Forex Chart Patterns and How To Profitably Trade Them
For a quick reference of all the chart patterns described on this page, click Quick Reference Forex Chart Patterns.
Here's the list of patterns that we're going to cover in depth:
- Symmetrical Triangles
- Ascending Triangles
- Descending Triangles
- Double Top
- Double Bottom
- Head and Shoulders
- Reverse Head and Shoulders
Symmetrical Triangles are chart formations where the slope of the price’s highs and the slope of the price’s lows converge together to a point where it looks like a triangle. What is happening during this formation is that the market is making lower highs and higher lows. This means that neither the buyers nor the sellers are pushing the price far enough to make a clear trend. If this was a battle between the buyers and sellers, then this would be a draw. This type of activity is called consolidation:
In the chart above, we can see that neither the buyers nor the sellers could push the price in their direction. When this happens we get lower highs and higher lows. As these two slopes get closer to each other, it means that a breakout is getting near. We don’t know what direction the breakout will be, but we do know that the market will break out. Eventually, one side of the market will give in. So how can we take advantage of this? Simple. We can place entry orders above the slope of the lower highs and below the slope of the higher lows. Since we already know that the price is going to break out, we can just hitch a ride in whatever direction the market moves.
In this example, if we placed an entry order above the slope of the lower highs, we would’ve been taken along for a nice ride up. If you had placed another entry order below the slope of the higher lows, then you would cancel it as soon as the first order was hit.
This type of formation occurs when there is a resistance level and a slope of higher lows. What happens during this time is that there is a certain level that the buyers cannot seem to exceed. However, they are gradually starting to push the price up as evident by the higher lows:
In the chart above, you can see that the buyers are starting to gain strength because they are making higher lows. They keep putting pressure on that resistance level and as a result, a breakout is bound to happen. Now the question is, “Which direction will it go?” “Will the buyers be able to break that level or will the resistance be too strong?”
Many charting books will tell you that in most cases, the buyers will win this battle and the price will break out past the resistance. However, it has been my experience that this is not always the case. Sometimes the resistance level is too strong and there is simply not enough buying power to push it through.
Most of the time the price will in fact go up. The point I am trying to make is that we do not care which direction the price goes, but we want to be ready for a movement in EITHER direction. In this case, we would set an entry order above the resistance line and below the slope of the higher lows.
In this scenario, the buyers won the battle and the price proceeded to skyrocket!
As you probably guessed, descending triangles are the exact opposite of ascending triangles (I knew you were smart!). In descending triangles, there is a string of lower highs which forms the upper line. The lower line is a support level in which the price cannot seem to break:
In the chart above, you can see that the price is gradually making lower highs which tell us that the sellers are starting to gain some ground against the buyers. Now most of the time, and I did say MOST; the price will eventually break the support line and continue to fall. However, in some cases, the support line is too strong, and the price will bounce off of it and make a strong move up.
The good news is that we don’t care where the price goes. We just know that it’s about to go somewhere. In this case we would place entry orders above the upper line (the lower highs) and below the support line.
In this case, the price did end up breaking the support line and proceeded to drop rather quickly. (*note- The market tends to fall faster than it rises which means you usually make money faster when you are short).
A double top is a reversal pattern that is formed after there is an extended move up. The “tops” are peaks which are formed when the price hits a certain level that can’t be broken. After hitting this level, the price will bounce off of it slightly, but then return back to test the level again. If the price bounces off of that level again, then you have a DOUBLE top!
In the chart above you can see that two peaks or “tops” were formed after a strong move up. Notice how the 2nd top was not able to break the high of the 1st top. This is a strong sign that a reversal is going to occur because it is telling us that the buying pressure is just about finished.
With double tops, we would place our entry order below the neckline because we are anticipating a reversal of the uptrend.
Wow! I must be a psychic or something because I always seem to be right! Looking at the chart you can see that the price breaks the neckline and makes a nice move down. Remember, double tops are a trend reversal formation. You’ll want to look for these after there is a strong uptrend.
Double bottoms are also trend reversal formations, but this time we are looking to go long instead of short. These formations occur after extended downtrends when two valleys or “bottoms” have been formed.
You can see from the chart above that after the previous downtrend, the price formed two valleys because it wasn’t able to go below a certain level. Notice how the 2nd bottom wasn’t able to significantly break the 1st bottom. This is a sign that the selling pressure is about finished, and that a reversal is about to occur. In this situation, we would place an entry order above the neckline.
Would you look at that! The price breaks the neckline and makes a nice move up. Remember, just like double tops, double bottoms are also trend reversal formations. You’ll want to look for these after a strong downtrend.
A head and shoulders pattern is also a trend reversal formation. It is formed by a peak (shoulder), followed by a higher peak (head), and then another lower peak (shoulder). A “neckline” is drawn by connecting the lowest points of the two troughs. The slope of this line can either be up or down. In my experience, when the slope is down, it produces a more reliable signal.
In this example, we can visibly see the head and shoulders pattern. The head is the 2nd peak and is the highest point in the pattern. The two shoulders also form peaks but do not exceed the high of the head.
With this formation, we look to make an entry order below the neckline. We can also calculate a target by measuring the high point of the head to the neckline. This distance is approximately how far the price will move after it breaks the neckline.
You can see that once the price goes below the neckline it makes a move that is about the size of the distance between the head and the neckline.
The name speaks for itself. It is basically a head and shoulders formation, except this time it’s in reverse. A valley is formed (shoulder), followed by an even lower valley (head), and then another higher valley (shoulder). These formations occur after extended downward movements.
Here you can see that this is just like a head and shoulders pattern, but it’s flipped upside down. With this formation, we would place an long entry order above the neckline. Our target is calculated just like the head and shoulders pattern. Measure the distance between the head and the neckline and that is approximately the distance that the price will move after it breaks the neckline.
Symmetrical ou can see that the price moved up nicely after it broke the neckline. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “the price kept moving even after it reached the target.” And my response is, “DON”T BE GREEDY!” If your target is hit, then be happy with your profits. However, there are strategies where you can lock in some of your profits and still keep your trade open in case the price continues to move your way. You will learn about those later on in the course.
Chart formations are like bazookas because they often create huge explosions on the chart.
* Consists of lower highs and higher lows
* Place entry orders above the lower highs and below the higher lows
* Consists of higher lows and a resistance line
* It usually means that the price will break the resistance line and go higher but you should place entry orders on both sides just in case the resistance line is too strong.
* Place your entry orders above the resistance line and below the higher lows.
* Consists of lower highs and a support line
* I usually means that the price will break the support line and go lower but you should place entry orders on both sides just in case the support line is too strong.
* Place your entry orders above the lower highs and below the support line.
Trend Reversal Formations:
* Happens after an extended uptrend.
* Formed by 2 peaks that can’t break a certain level. This level becomes a resistance line.
* Place our short entry order below the low point of the valley in between the 2 peaks.
* Happens after an extended downtrend.
* Formed by 2 valleys that can’t break a certain level. This level becomes a support line.
* Place our long entry order above the high point of the peak in between the 2 valleys.
Head and Shoulders
* Happens after an extended uptrend.
* Formed by a peak, followed by a higher peak, and then another lower peak. A neckline is formed by connecting the low points of the two troughs or “valleys”.
* Place your short entry order below the neckline.
* We calculate our target by measuring the distance between the high point of the head and the neckline. This is the approximate distance that the price will move after it breaks the neckline.
Reverse Head and Shoulders
* Happens after an extended downtrend.
* Formed by a valley, followed by a lower valley, and then another higher valley. A neckline is formed by connecting the high points of the 2 peaks.
* Place your long entry order above the neckline.
* We calculate our target by measuring the distance between the low point of the head and the neckline. This is the approximate distance that the price will move after it breaks the neckline.
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