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Beginner's Guide To Stockcharts.com: Using The SharpCharts Workbench

Figure 1: Start to Chart

The first step in creating a Sharpchart is to enter a ticker in the input field on the upper right hand side of the home page. There are actually multiple ways of getting to the SharpCharts Workbench. Beyond the link on the home page, users can access it in the "free charts" section of the website (easily reachable on the navigation toolbar embedded on every page), using the "Create a Chart" box that appears under the toolbar on almost every page on the site or by clicking on any of the SharpCharts Navicons.

Advantages Of Data-Based Intraday Charts

The Default Chart
Once you enter a ticker, the website presents you with a default candlestick chart measuring 700 pixels wide and including three overlays (50 and 200-day simple moving averages with volume) and two indicators (14-period RSI and MACD). Subscribers can change the default chart to any style and format they like.

Figure 2: Default Chart

Dissecting a SharpChart

  1. Symbol Input Field: This is where you enter the ticker for the stock you wish to view
  2. Period Drop Down: This dropdown menu allows you to change the time period of the Sharpchart. (*free users can only select between daily or weekly charts, subscribers have more options including intraday data)
  3. Update Button: Whenever a selection is made to any of the SharpChart settings, users must press update for the changes to appear in the chart. (* "Extra" subscribers can use the "Auto-Refresh" dropdown-box to have their charts automatically updated throughout the day)
  4. SharpChart: This is the actual SharpChart itself (default is candlestick as mentioned above).
  5. Annotate Link: The "Annotate" link allows users to draw trendlines, insert text, add boxes and even add fibonacci studies to the chart. Annotating is available in both flash and a java applet. (* Free users will not be able to save annotations)
  6. Sharing: This sections allows users to print or share charts
  7. Chart Attributes: The Chart Attributes area lets users change the global characteristics on the chart, like the range of time, type, size and color scheme.
  8. Overlays: The Overlays area lets users add technical indicators that appear directly on top of the price bars, such as moving averages and Bollinger Band®. (*free users can add up to three overlays while subscribers can add up to twenty four)
Indicators: The Indicators area lets users add technical indicators that appear in separate panels above or below the price bars (*free users can add up to three indicators while subscribers can add up to twenty four)

SEE: Using Trading Indicators Effectively

Tip: If you don't know the ticker for a stock, enter any part of the name for the company and stockcharts.com will return a list of stocks matching your entry.

Chart attributes are the settings that affect the whole chart or any individual attribute. This is where a user can change the timeframe, chart size and colors, and customize the format of the price plot portion of the chart. Each individual attribute is described below:

  • Periods - Allows users to select a "period" of time, such as Daily or Weekly bars. (*subscribers have additional periods available including intraday periods)
  • Range - Sets the start and end points for the chart. The range dropdown contains the generic "Predefined Range" choice as well as a group of commonly used "short cuts" (i.e. one month, six months, one year). When one of the shortcuts is selected, the user is presented with three additional dropdowns - Years, Months, Days - and an Extra Bars field. If you use one of the short cuts, the dropdowns will be pre-filled with your choice. Otherwise, you will have to select the duration yourself using whatever combination of Years, Months and Days that you want. When you're done, click the "Update" button to see the results. The Extra Bars field allows a user to add empty space to the right of the chart (i.e. selecting "5" in the "Bar" field will add five bars of empty space).
  • Type - Sets the kind of symbols that are used to represent the price information. See the "Available Chart Types" section below for a full listing.
  • Size - Sets the horizontal width of the chart. The "Portrait" and "Landscape" sizes fix both the horizontal and vertical sizes (for printing purposes). (*Extra members can create charts larger than 700 pixels wide.)
  • Color Scheme - Sets the color scheme that is used to create the chart. There are 16 predefined color schemes, although subscribers can override many of these color choices using the advanced settings' "pull-outs" located throughout the workbench.
  • Volume - "Overlay" draws volume bars behind the price bars with the scale on the left side of the chart. "Separate" draws volume bars in a separate panel below the price bars. "Off" removes the volume bars from the chart.
  • Full Quote - When checked, adds a special panel to the top of the chart, with detailed quote information, including bid and ask data (when available).
  • Price Labels - When checked, adds small flags with price data at significant highs and lows on the chart.
  • Log Scale - When checked, uses a logarithmic scale on the vertical axis of the price plot panel creating a semi-log chart.
  • Colored Prices - When checked, draws price bars on "down" periods in a different color. "Down" periods are defined as periods where the closing value is less than the previous period's closing value.
  • Colored Volume - When checked, draws price bars on "down" periods in a different color. "Down" periods are defined as periods where the closing value is less than the previous period's closing value.
  • Show Legends - When checked, adds information about each indicator and overlay on the chart to the upper left corner of each panel. Uncheck this option if the legend information is interfering with important areas of your chart.
  • Smoothed Lines - When checked, removes the stair-step effect from indicator and overlay lines that occur on lower resolution charts. Uncheck this setting if lines appear "fuzzy" on your display. Important: Using larger chart sizes is the best way to increase visual accuracy.
  • Y-Axis Labels - When checked, adds small flags to the right edge of the chart, with values for each indicator and price line.
SEE: Economic Indicators For The Do-It-Yourself Investor

* In addition, subscribers have the ability to "pull-out" the advanced chart settings by clicking on the green arrow to the left of the "Color Scheme" dropdown. They can then change the following settings:

  • Grid - Sets the density of the grid lines that appear on the chart. Important: using higher grid densities can greatly increase the download size of the chart.
  • Color - Sets the color of the price bars/candlesticks.
  • Opacity - Sets the opacity (i.e., the transparency) of the price bars/candlesticks. A setting of 1.0 is completely opaque ("solid, non-see-thru"). A setting of 0.5 is somewhat transparent. A setting of 0.0 is invisible.

Tip: If your charts are taking a long time to download, try disabling Line Smoothing and using a coarser Grid setting - especially if you are looking at a chart with a large number of data points on it.

Beginner's Guide To Stockcharts.com: Chart Attributes