DEFINITION of 'Write Out'

Write out is the process describing a dual-trade transaction involving a specialist and a floor trader for an individual stock issue. The first trade in a write out will be between the specialist and a floor trader, using the specialist's own inventory of stock. The stock is sold to the trader, who then executes the second part of the trade by transacting the same number of shares with an end client.


Specialists have daily inventories of stock to use as they see fit to maintain an orderly market in the stocks in which they make markets. By stepping in to purchase or sell shares as needed, they can help facilitate a smooth and orderly market, even during volatile trading days. The advent of electronic trading platforms has limited the need for specialists and write outs, and while it is possible that these human beings will disappear altogether on trading floors, it hasn't happened quite yet as of the time of this writing (2018).

The term "write out" harkens back to the days of paper transactions when participants on a trading floor wrote down orders with paper and pen. A floor trader seeking a particular stock would approach a specialist at his designated post on the trading floor. When they agreed to quantity and price of a stock, the specialist wrote out the order for the trader, who then, with paper in hand, transacted the second leg of the dual-trade with his client. A write out today is by electronic means, but there may be times when old-fashioned paper and pen is needed, as during a trading platform breakdown or power outage. Though rare, these incidents have occurred in the past.

  1. Specialist

    A specialist is a member of an exchange who acts as the market ...
  2. Specialist Firm

    A specialist firm is a firm that employs specialists that represent ...
  3. Negative Obligation

    Negative obligation is a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) rule ...
  4. Floor Trader - FT

    Floor traders are traders in the trading pit who are trading ...
  5. Trading Floor

    Trading floor refers to an area of an exchange where trading ...
  6. Specialist Short Sale Ratio

    The specialist short sell ratio compares the short positions ...
Related Articles
  1. Trading

    How to Practice as a Day Trader With Paper Trading

    Day traders face intense competition in today's market. Paper trading practice is more important than ever for getting above-market risk-adjusted returns.
  2. Personal Finance

    A Day in the Life of a Day Trader

    Day trading has many advantages, and while we often hear about these perks, it's important to realize that day trading is hard work.
  3. Investing

    An introduction to commercial paper

    Commercial paper, a type of interest collecting promissory note, is a short-term instrument that can be a viable alternative for retail fixed-income investors looking for a better rate of return.
  4. Trading

    Writing A Covered Call

    Writing an option is the process of selling to another investor the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a stock at a given price in the near future. It can also be referred to as shorting ...
  5. Personal Finance

    Quit Your Job to Trade Stocks?

    Ready to quit your day job and become a full-time trader? These tips will help you determine your area of expertise.
  6. Trading

    The 10 Worst Mistakes Beginner Traders Make

    Traders generally buy and sell securities more frequently and hold positions for much shorter periods than investors, which can result in costly mistakes.
  7. Trading

    Day Trading: An Introduction

    This article takes an objective look at day trading, who does it, and how it is done.
  1. Who employs the specialists at New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)? Do they work for themselves, ...

    Specialists are people on the trading floor of an exchange, such as the NYSE, who hold inventories of particular stocks. ... Read Answer >>
  2. The difference between a market order and limit order

    Market orders execute a trade to buy or sell immediately at the best available price. A limit order only trades when the ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center