Chart Pattern Cheat Sheet by FXOpen


Chart patterns have long been a staple in the toolkit of market participants, offering valuable insights into potential price movements. To navigate the complex landscape of chart patterns effectively, it's essential to have a traders’ cheat sheet with chart patterns on hand. In this FXOpen article, we have gathered the most important information about chart patterns that you may need for quick reference for making informed trading decisions.

3 Types of Chart Patterns

To navigate the complex landscape of chart patterns effectively, it's essential to understand the three primary categories: Reversal, Continuation, and Bilateral. These formations can be found on a chart of any asset, including stocks, commodities, indices, and cryptocurrencies*.

Reversal Patterns

Reversal patterns are the heralds of a potential change in trend. They typically emerge after an extended price trend, signalling that the prevailing market sentiment may be on the verge of changing direction. Recognising reversal setups involves identifying specific characteristics:

  • Extended Trends: Reversal patterns often follow prolonged upward or downward price movements.
  • Shift in Sentiment: Reversal formations suggest a shift in market sentiment from bullish to bearish or vice versa.
  • Distinctive Shapes: They are characterised by unique shapes that make them easily recognisable on price charts.

Importance in Trend Reversal

Understanding the characteristics of reversal setups is essential due to their significance in trading and analysis:

  • Early Warnings: Identifying reversal setups early can provide traders with warnings of a potential change in a trend direction, enabling them to exit positions before the trend changes, thus potentially preserving returns.
  • Counter-Trend Strategies: Skilled traders may use reversal patterns as signals to enter counter-trend trades, capitalising on the anticipated market shift.
  • Enhanced Risk Management: Recognising when a trend might reverse allows traders to implement potentially better risk management practices, including setting stop-loss and take-profit orders.

The most popular reversal formations are head and shoulders, and inverse head and shoulders, double top/bottom, and triple top/bottom.

Continuation Patterns

Continuation patterns, as their name suggests, indicate that the existing trend is likely to persist after a period of consolidation or correction. They share certain characteristics:

  • Temporary Pause: Continuation patterns represent a temporary halt or pause in the prevailing trend.
  • Consolidation Phase: Prices move within a defined range in these formations.
  • Resumption of Trend: Continuation patterns imply that, after the consolidation phase, the prior trend is expected to resume.

Significance in Trend Continuation

Continuation patterns are key tools in trading and analysis, as they serve several key purposes:

  • Staying with the Trend: Identifying continuation formations may enable traders to stay in a strong trend.
  • Trend Confirmation: These patterns act as confirmation signals for the existing trend, providing additional confidence to traders.
  • Entry Opportunities: Traders often employ breakout strategies when continuation patterns are identified, seeking entry points to trade in a solid trend.

The well-known continuation formations include ascending and descending triangles, flags, and pennants.

Bilateral Patterns

Bilateral patterns, also known as symmetrical patterns, are indeed characterised by their neutrality and the potential for either a continuation or reversal of the current trend. They signify a period of market indecision, where buyers and sellers are in equilibrium, and the outcome can go in either direction. Key characteristics of bilateral patterns include:

  • High Dependence on Market Sentiment: When spotting bilateral patterns on the chart, traders pay close attention to the market sentiment as it will determine whether the trend will resume or reverse.
  • Volume Analysis: Traders often analyse volume alongside bilateral setups. A breakout accompanied by an increase in trading volume can provide further confirmation of the pattern's validity.
  • Duration: The duration of bilateral formations can vary, but they are generally considered to be intermediate term. Traders may look for them on daily or weekly charts.

Significance in Trading

The role of bilateral (symmetrical) patterns in trading is significant, as they provide traders with valuable insights and potential trading opportunities:

  • Indicating Market Indecision: Bilateral patterns serve as clear indicators of market indecision. This period of uncertainty can be a signal for traders to exercise caution and prepare for a potential breakout.
  • Risk Management: Understanding bilateral patterns may help traders to implement effective risk management strategies.
  • Flexibility in Trading Strategies: Bilateral setups provide flexibility in trading strategies. Traders can adapt to the breakout direction, allowing for both long and short trading opportunities based on the pattern's outcome.

The well-known bilateral formations include a symmetrical triangle and rectangles.

Chart Pattern Cheat Sheet for Quick Reference

The table below can be used as a stock, commodity, cryptocurrency*, and forex trading pattern cheat sheet, as these patterns can be spotted on a chart of any trading instrument.

How to Use the Chart Pattern Cheat Sheet Effectively

To harness the full potential of the chart pattern cheat sheet, traders and analysts adopt a structured approach that incorporates practice, confirmation, context assessment, and risk management.

Practice and Familiarisation

Practice Is Key: The first step in effective pattern analysis is practice. Study the cheat sheet diligently, acquaint yourself with the formation names, and understand their core characteristics. Practise identifying these patterns on historical and real-time charts to enhance recognition skills. You can do this on the free TickTrader trading platform that offers advanced technical analysis tools.

Variations Awareness: Recognise that patterns may exhibit variations. While they might not precisely match the illustrations on the cheat sheet, they should display the same underlying characteristics.

Frequency: Be aware of the frequency with which each pattern appears in different markets and timeframes. Some formations occur more frequently, influencing your trading strategy.

Confirmation and Context

Multiple Confirmations: Don't rely solely on pattern recognition. Seek confirmation from other technical indicators, including volume analysis, support/resistance levels, and technical indicators. Multiple confirmations boost the reliability of your analysis.

Market Context: Always consider the broader market context. Determine the market's state — strong trend or consolidation. Context helps gauge pattern significance. For instance, a reversal setup in a robust uptrend may carry a higher probability.

Timeframes Matter: Analyse patterns across various timeframes, from one-minute to monthly charts. Patterns may hold different implications on charts with different intervals. Understanding the context of each timeframe is crucial.

Risk Management

Set Stop-Loss Orders: Risk management is paramount. Implement stringent risk controls, including setting stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.

Position Sizing: Ensure that you do not expose more than a pre-established percentage of your trading capital to risk in a single trade.

Risk-Reward Ratio: Evaluate the risk-reward ratio for each trade as part of your analysis. Be sure that potential rewards justify the risks. A favourable risk-reward ratio may enhance your overall performance.

Adapt to Changing Conditions: Market conditions evolve, and patterns may behave differently. Be flexible in adjusting risk management strategies in response to changing market dynamics.

Concluding Thoughts

The chart pattern cheat sheet serves as a valuable tool in the arsenal of traders and analysts navigating the dynamic world of financial markets. This compact reference guide condenses the intricate world of chart patterns into a manageable format, making it an indispensable resource for market participants with any level of experience.

At FXOpen, you can trade in over 600 markets with tight spreads from 0.0 pips and low commissions from $1.50. Open an FXOpen account now and enjoy favourable conditions.

*At FXOpen UK and FXOpen AU, Cryptocurrency CFDs are only available for trading by those clients categorised as Professional clients under FCA Rules and Professional clients under ASIC Rules, respectively. They are not available for trading by Retail clients.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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