Changing the Chart Appearance

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Video Transcript:

Hello traders. Welcome to the thinkorswim tutorial and the third module, charting. In this lesson we’re going to learn how to manipulate the appearance of the charts on thinkorswim. And for that we’re going to go to the platform. As you remember, in the past lesson we have learned how to enable the monitor, chat, and the left-side bar. Now we are going to talk about charts. And as you can see I don’t have any instruments loaded up on my chart. So the first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to type the instrument name in the box on the top-right corner of your chart. Now, we’re going to use the E-mini S&P 500 for this example.

Chart appearance on TOS

Now, this is the default chart appearance on thinkorswim. And as you can see, it’s very thick, the colors are very loud, and it’s not easy on the eye. Now, I’m going to show you how to manipulate the appearance and how to save the style of your chart.

Editing chart appearance

Now the first thing you want to do is you want to go to this button right here and click on “Style.” Then you want to go to the sub-menu settings. When you go to the sub-menu settings, you are going to be prompted out with this box. And I’m going to put the box right here to the left side of my screen because I want you to see the manipulations I’m going to do on the actual chart. Now, we’re going to go to “Appearance.” And as you can see right here, you can chose the type of chart that you want. You can choose from “Bar,” to “Candlesticks,” to “Candle trend,” etc. We are going to stick with “Candlesticks” for this example. And you can also choose, before the standard candles, the “Monkey Bars,” and the “Monkey Bars Expanded,” etc. We are going to use the standard “Candlestick” patterns.

Now, you can change the color of your candlesticks for when they are bullish or bearish. Border up means that the closing price of the candlestick is above the opening price. And border down means that the closing price of this candlestick is below the opening price. Now, you can modify the color and I’m going to modify the color. I’m going to select a blue for my bullish bars. Now, the doji bars are going to remain uncolored because this means that the closing price and the opening price is the same.

Now, I’m going to fill up the bullish candles, and also change the color, or the feel of the bullish candles to a nice blue. Now my bullish candles are blue, my bearish candles are red, and my doji is still white. To customize the background of the chart, you want to click on this tab that says “Common.” You want to choose the cursor mode. If you don’t want a cursor, that’s fine, you can obviously have the horizontal line on the cursor, or the vertical line or the crosshair tool. I like to use the crosshair tool with the full color.

Now, the volume bars can also be changed in color. The present color is blue, but you can select any color that you want. And for this demonstration, I’m going to change it to green. I don’t use it as a green, but it’s fine.

Now the only thing that is left for us to change on this chart is the background color. Because this blue, even though it’s the default color of thinkorswim, it’s not very pleasing on the eyes. So we are going to choose a plain blank background color and we are going to opt to not use the grid. In order for you to be able to look or not at the grid, you have to click on this box. Okay, now the grid is on, and now the grid lines are gone. Then you click on “Apply” and you can see that our chart has changed to a more pleasant type of appearance.

Changing background colour on TOS chart

Now let’s go, and I’m going to teach you what these lines mean. Most of you think that these lines by default on the thinkorswim platform cannot be eliminated. But let me tell you something, you are wrong. We have three kinds of line here. We have the futures rollover line, which is this very bright, bluish color. We have the expiration Friday lines, which is the red ones. And the end of year line, which is the black one. And I don’t know about you, but even though I trade futures I don’t use these lines on my charts because I already know when the rollover takes place. But if you trade options it’s fine to have them on a daily chart, for example. But I’m going to teach you how to get rid of them.

All you have to do is click on the “Style” button and go to “Settings.” I’m going to move the box again to the left side of the screen so that you can see the changes on the chart while I’m performing them. You have to go then to “Time” axis, and then you have to unclick “Show Rollover Lines.” You apply it, and as you can see the rollover lines are gone. “Show Expiration Friday,” and apply it, and the expiration lines are gone. And the year making lines and the expirations are gone. And we click “OK.”

This is how the chart should look like, or for me, it’s clean, it doesn’t have any lines on it. Well, it still has the futures lines on it. But that’s fine. And it’s much, much cleaner than the normal thinkorswim style.

Then, if you want the volume to be even bigger on your chart, you just click here and hold, and just move that baby up. All right, so the last piece of chart here that I want to go through is the small place that I probably need on the right side of my chart. As you already know, on the MT4 platform and the NinjaTrader and so on, you can have right here a blank space on your chart. And even though it doesn’t maximize your chart space, it does give you space to finish your drawings and see what’s going on next.

So what you do is you click on the “Style” button again, you go to “Settings,” and you go to “Time Axis.” And as you can see here, you have a box that is named “Expansion Area.” Now, the expansion area is how many bars to the right you want the space to be at. You can choose to have 10 bars, and if you apply it you can see that you have a nice space. I personally prefer 15 bars to the right. And then you click “OK.”

Charting Thinkorswim

So, this is the exact appearance that I want on my charts. And because I don’t want to be doing this over and over, I’m going to save this style. To save the style you’re going to right-click on the mouse, go all the way down here to “Style,” and click on “Save Style.” And we’re going to name it “Blank Style.” That’s fine. You can name it whatever you want. And if what you’re doing has any indicators on it, make sure you include the patterns and studies to the settings. Then you click “OK,” and your charting style is saved.


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Adam is an experienced financial trader who writes about Forex trading, binary options, technical analysis and more.

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