You’re about to learn how I used footprint charts to help reinvent my trading career. This is after I had already made 7 figures as a trader!
After reading this post you will understand the critical edge footprint charts provide to help build context around your trades, validate them, and improve your entries and exits.
The Need for Footprint Charts
In 2008, I was 5 years into my professional trading career at GPC in Chicago. The majority of us at the firm were pure Level II traders.
A Level II quote gave us the ability to read order flow as well as determine logical levels for stops and take profits.
I would use the Level II in order to determine when large buyers or sellers were entering the market creating imbalances as well as to identify key support and resistance levels.
I profited by following other time frame traders as they entered the market or by taking out S&R levels that I knew a lot of short term traders were leaning on as their out. I would cover my position into their panicking.
Then things changed, real quick… In 2008 algorithms began to account for a majority of trading volume. The algo’s resulted in a lot of false or fake orders being advertised in the Level II that would get pulled, making a Level II MUCH less transparent and very difficult to read.
Like most other pure Level II traders, I reached a point where I had to develop new strategies or my career would have been over.
Introducing Footprint Charts – Key Concepts
Footprint charts brought market demand and supply back to life for me. Footprint charts allow you to interpret order flow, similar to how I used Level II quotes in the past. Let’s take a look at some of the basics and how to read a footprint chart.
The price of any security depends on whether you wish to buy or sell.
When you want to buy a security the price you will pay is the Ask (price the counter-party is asking). If you wish to sell, the price you will receive is the Bid (price the counter-party is bidding).
In the example above, if you were looking to sell a eMini S&P 500 contract the price you would receive is 3010.25. If you were looking to buy you would pay 3010.50.
Note: The act of buying with a market order is known as taking the offer or lifting the ask. The act of selling with a market order is known as hitting the bid.
Next let’s take a look at a Trading DOM, which stands for Depth Of Market. This display shows all of the resting limit orders in the market (Advertised Prices).
In the example below, the current market on the ES (eMini S&P 500) is 3010.75 by 3011.00.
Sellers are prepared to offer 380 contracts for sale at 3011.00 – the Ask price.
Buyers are prepared to purchase 1156 contracts at 3010.75 – the Bid price.
Since the introduction of algorithms a lot of the orders resting in the book will never trade. The algorithms constantly add and pull orders reducing transparency.
Footprint charts give us the ability to see the data that we’re actually interested in, executed orders. Not the transactions that are being advertised on the DOM.
Note: Throughout this post I will be referencing the eMini S&P500 as it’s the primary contract that I trade. However, footprint charts are valuable when trading any market including equities, forex, oil, digital currencies, and gold.
The chart above is a very basic footprint chart (Bid/Ask Footprint) of the ES using a 5 minute time frame.
Let’s zoom in and study the ins and outs of a footprint candle.
On the above candle, the closed transactions highlighted in green is the amount of volume that occurred as a result of market orders hitting the bid.
The volume highlighted in red occurred as a result of market orders taking the offer.
Also notice the candlestick outline designating the Open, High, Low, and Close for this bar.
Considering a price quote is made up of a bid and an ask price, you have to look at the chart diagonally.
When the price quote was 2874.00 x 2874.25, 113 contracts traded on the bid at 2874.00 and 173 contracts traded on the offer at 2874.25.
Point of Control (POC)
The Point of Control, also know as the POC, is the price level where the highest level of volume traded for a given session.
On the chart below you will notice yellow rectangles highlighting the POC’s of every 5 minute session.
We will use the Point of Control to help tell us determine whether buyers or sellers are the aggressor during a given session and to designate areas of support and resistance.
Buy and Sell Imbalances
What makes the price of security move? It’s pretty simple… the aggression of buyers and sellers.
If the buyers are more aggressive than the sellers price is driven up. If the sellers are more aggressive price is driven down. AMT Theory 101.
Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to quickly visualize when large buyers or sellers are entering the market? You can!
To do this we can look at buy and sell imbalances on a footprint chart.
On the above chart you will notice some of the volumes highlighted in green or red.
The ones highlighted in green are buy imbalances because they occurred on the offer and were over 300% higher than the corresponding bid.
The ones highlighted in red are sell imbalances because they occurred on the bid and were over 300% higher than the corresponding offer.
Note: 300% is what I use for my buy and sell imbalances. Most charting packages allow you to change this.
Let’s take a closer look at the candle that formed at 12:50.
You will notice a buy imbalance highlighted in green of 607. A total of 607 trades took place on the offer versus 174 trades that took place on the bid.
607 / 174 = 3.49 which is an imbalance of over 300% so the bid is highlighted green.
Footprint Chart Types
Footprint charts come in several different types and variations. If you decide to incorporate them into your own strategies, odds are you will use multiple variations. Let’s take a look at the main ones and discuss each of their benefits and how you can use them.
The most common Footprint Chart is the Bid/Ask Footprint. (above) It should look familiar because it’s what you’ve seen so far.
The biggest benefit to the Bid/Ask Footprint is to be able to see buy and sell imbalances. We will go over some examples of how you can use imbalances shortly.
Volume Delta is the difference between buying and selling power. Volume Delta is calculated by taking the difference of the volume that traded at the offer price and the volume that traded at the bid price.
Volume Delta = Offer Volume – Bid Volume
If delta is greater than 0, buyers are the aggressor as more contracts traded on the offer than the corresponding bid.
If delta is less than 0, sellers are the aggressor as more contracts traded on the bid than the corresponding offer.
The bid/ask chart we just looked at is the exact same timeframe and period of time as the delta footprint. Let’s compare the candles that opened at 2:05 p.m. and you visually can see how delta is calculated.
You can see at the lowest price point on the Bid/Ask Footprint (left) that 52 trades took place on the bid and 0 on the offer.
Delta = offer volume – bid volume
0 – 52 = -52 Delta
Let’s break out the calculation for the price level second from the bottom.
238 trades on the bid and 135 on the offer.
135 – 52 = -103 Delta
Note: Remember that trades that occur on the bid represent seller aggression and decrease delta. Where as trades that occur on the offer represent buyer aggression and increase delta.
The third style of footprint chart is the volume footprint (above) also known as volume imprint or volume profile bar. A volume profile displays the amount of volume traded at each price level for a given user defined session. On the chart above the blue represents the amount of volume traded at each price level for a given 5 minute session. (POC is highlighted in gold)
You can also combine different footprint styles. Below is an example of a Bid/Ask Volume Footprint.
Should you decide to use Footprint Charts, odds are you will use multiple variations.
Personally I use longer time frame bid/ask charts when I’m looking for a buy or sell imbalance to a trigger a move away from fair value. I don’t use delta imprints simply because I already have a cumulative delta indicator on my scalping chart.
Finally, I use volume profiles (volume footprint) to determine whether price is imbalanced or balanced, and to determine support and resistance levels.
It’s important to mention that footprint charts are extremely data intensive and will require a certain type of data feed. Here’s a post that covers market data feeds in depth.
Now you have a basic understanding of what makes up a footprint chart and the different types. Next, let’s take a look at how you can begin to implement these charts into your trading.
Footprint Chart Strategies
Footprint charts are great for building context around your current strategies or developing entirely new ones.
Let’s get into some examples.
Stacked Buy and Sell Imbalances
Stacked imbalances are simply multiple buy or multiple sell imbalances in a tight price range.
You can see the stacked buy imbalances highlighted by the white rectangles in the chart above. Stacked buy imbalances indicate strong buyer aggression indicating a potential breakout or the continuation of an uptrend.
Below you can see the stacked sell imbalances highlighted by the white rectangles . Stacked sell imbalances indicate strong seller aggression indicating a potential breakout or the continuation of a downtrend.
I like to have a longer time frame Bid/Ask footprint open during the day to project stacked imbalances zones forward to determine support and resistance levels. Notice how price retraced back to the stacked imbalance that formed during the 10:00 a.m. bar on the 30 minute chart below. Price briefly touched the imbalance zone and was immediately rejected and the uptrend continued. It makes logical sense since we already knew there were aggressive buyers at that level earlier.
Tip: Think of support and resistance as a zone or area, not a specific price point.
Unfinished and Finished Auctions (Business)
Up auctions (bullish moves) end at a price level above which no active buyers are willing to buy. The price has become too unattractive to the buyers. Likewise, down auctions (bearish moves) end at a price level below which no active sellers are willing to sell. When either of these have occurred we have a Finished Auction.
We can use the Bid/Ask Footprint Chart to identify when this situation occurs. Finished auctions will have zero on the bid at highs or a zero on the offer at lows. The zero bid tells us price couldn’t go a tick higher because there were no passive buyers looking to buy. The auction was finished.
Likewise, we can see where there were no passive sellers when there is a 0 on the offer.
At the bottom of the green bar (below) we had a price level where 419 contracts traded on the bid and zero on the offer. The 419 contracts on the bid were enough to consume all of the sellers demand and price didn’t trade a tick lower.
You can see another example of a finished auction at the highs of the red candle. The 6 contracts traded on the offer was enough liquidity to consume all of the buyer demand and price didn’t tick higher.
Unfinished auctions are represented by volume trading on the bid as well as the offer at a session high or low. Unfinished auctions at significant highs or lows provide logical take profits as we can understand the reasons why these price levels may be visited again in order to complete the market’s auction process.
The 87 contracts purchased on the offer by buyers was enough to demand to take all of the liquidity on the offer and price ticked up followed by 19 contracts trading on the bid leaving us with an unfinished auction.
Remember from earlier, up auctions end at a price level above which no active buyers are willing to buy. In this example, price did not reach a level where active buyers were exhausted resulting in the unfinished auction.
In the above example we had two unfinished auctions form at the highs of the 11:45 and 11:50 bars. Had you played a reversal setup during the next several minutes you could have used the unfinished auctions as your take profit target.
Delta divergences are another great pattern to trade.
Delta and price will typically move in the same direction. That makes sense right? If buyers are aggressively taking the offer then price should go up and if sellers are aggressively hitting the bid price should go down.
Notice I said typically… So what’s occurring when there’s divergence between price and delta?
On the 1 minute volume footprint below the bottom indicator is Delta Volume. It simply takes the value of delta for a session and plots it on a positive/negative bar graph allowing you to quickly see when price and delta are diverging.
In example 1 below, we have a strong negative delta as sellers were aggressively hitting the bid, yet the session still closed positive. Buyer’s withstood the sellers aggression and bid up price. A sign of a potential reversal coming or continuation of trend.
In example 2, buyers were aggressively taking the offer represented by the positive delta yet price closed lower. Sellers were able to withstand the buyers aggression and filled the books with offers bring price down. A sign of a potential reversal coming or continuation of trend. Obviously this one would have most likely been a losing signal.
Can you guess what happened in 3 & 4?
If you’re interested in order flow, delta is an extremely powerful tool. Next you should dive deeper and read Volume Delta – The Ultimate Order Flow Indicator.
Note: Number 3 we had a strong negative delta yet price closed higher which in this case would have been a sign that the trend was going to continue. Number 4 we had a strong positive delta yet price closed lower which in this case would have been a sign that the trend was ending.
*I don’t believe you will be profitable just trading this individual pattern without additional context. Please make sure you backtest and sim trade any strategy before trading it live.
Volume Footprint Strategies
Volume always has a story to tell. In fact, I believe it’s the most important story the market has to tell. If you’re interested in trading order flow, volume will be at the core of your strategies.
High Volume Nodes & Point of Control
When using a volume profile there’s four critical pieces of information to observe.
High Volume Nodes (HVN): area of high volume relative to surrounding nodes
Low Volume Nodes (LVN): area of low volume relative to surrounding nodes
Point of Control: price level where the highest level of volume traded for a given session
Distribution: price in relation to HVN’s
High volume node’s act like gravity. They tend to attract price and try to hold it there.
Conversely, low volume nodes are areas with very little gravity. The market often rips right through these levels, not staying for long because there’s not much gravitational pull (resistance).
Let’s take a look at some examples of how you can use these.
POC’s and HVN’s are great for trailing your stop loss when in a position.
Let’s assume you saw several buy imbalances form as the 2:20 p.m. candle reached the upper end of the range it was trading in and decided to go long. A strategy you can use to help you stay in trends is trail your stop behind the POC’s and HVN’s that price last closed above in an uptrend or closed below in a downtrend.
The logic behind it is as price moves a way from a high volume node it indicates who the aggressor was in that price area. Therefore, in an uptrend you want to put your stop behind the areas where you know the buyers were more aggressive than sellers.
For those of you traders who currently trail candles that close at new highs or lows, this strategy will help tighten up your risk.
Next let’s take a look at how we can use HVN’s to find support and resistance levels.
HVN Support & Resistance
On the Daily Volume Footprint above you can see how the high volume nodes act as support and resistance. Also notice how price tends to shoot right through areas of low liquidity (LVN’s).
If I was looking at this chart in real time premarket I would be looking to play a breakout setup into the low liquidity area above or below. Remember there is very little resistance (low gravity) in low volume nodes.
Timeframe is key when picking your support and resistance levels. I’m primarily a short term scalper so long term for me is 30M, 1Hr, and 2Hr profiles. Yet I still do look at my daily and weekly levels every morning.
To get started I would skip the time frame above what you typically trade on and setup volume footprints on the next two or three time frames.
For example, if you primarily trade on the 5M time frame skip the 15M and look at the 30M, 1Hr, 2Hr.
b&P Reversal Profiles
The volume profile allows us to quickly visualize potential reversals and the strength of a potential move.
You can spot potential reversals by the shape of the volume profile.
“b” shaped volume profile where the majority of the volume went off in the circle and price closed above are a sign of a potential bullish reversal as price goes into discovery away from the mean.
“P” shaped volume profiles where the majority of the volume went off in the circle and price closed below are a sign of a potential bearish reversal price goes into discovery away from the mean.
You can use these to validate your current setups or create a new strategy with them.
Footprint Chart Software (Updated 2023)
It’s time for you to get your hands dirty by trying footprint charts for yourself! Below are a number of options to consider for footprint charting platforms.
MotiveWave – I’ve been using MotiveWave for the past couple of years and think it’s a pretty solid platform.
I was looking to make a switch to something that was native to Apple. (I used Parallels for years) If you’re looking to trade order flow trader I highly recommend this software.
Sierra Charts – I used Sierra for about 10 years until I made the switch to MotiveWave. Sierra calls their footprint indicator number bars. It’s offered for free with a lot of brokers. Either way the majority of brokers support this charting package. (View Broker List Here)
Sierra’s GUI is a little outdated but it’s still an amazing platform. It’s lightening fast! Rarely did I ever have it lock up, even in crazy volatility. I would still be on Sierra most likely if they had a version native to Apple.
Ninja Trader – Ninja Trader is a popular platform for a lot of futures and forex traders as well as automated traders. I’ve used the platform and personally am not a big fan of the GUI or layout. Also a lot of the order flow tools are additional cost or a third party add on.
Bookmap – Bookmap is a highly visual trading platform for order flow traders. Through some creative heatmap looking charts you’re able to visualize market liquidity (advertised orders).
Exocharts – Web based charting platform with a lot of order flow tools. Only available for Crypto.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any functioning footprint indicators for Think Or Swim, Trading View, MT4 or MT5.
Think Or Swim – TD Ameritrade offers a great charting package for free, but unfortunately they don’t support footprint charts. I posted it as I know a ton of people are searching for it.
I would be surprised if ThinkOrSwim and TradingView don’t develop footprint charts and additional order flow indicators in the near future. I know there have been a ton of requests from their communities.
If you have seen any footprint indicators for these platforms please leave a comment!
Footprint charts have drastically improved my trading over the years. Implement them properly, and you can see the same results.
Build an entire trading strategy around footprint charts or you can use them to validate your current trade setups.
The best traders in the world find trading to be effortless. However, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t take hard work. It’s effortless as a result of all the preparation which is where all the hard work comes in. Which is exactly what you’re doing right now.
You should design and build your trading strategy till it reaches the point where you just become a processor filtering through the information the market provides. Once all of your conditions are met you enter a trade. There should never be any second guessing.
This is when trading becomes effortless. I hope this post helps you on your day trading journey!
If you would like my Sierra Chart or MotiveWave footprint templates and much more become a JT Insider…it’s free! JOIN NOW
What do you think of footprint charts? Leave a comment!
I just had a quick question regarding the footprint chart for intraday trading. I’ve read about and experimented with using different time frames. And I understand that there may not be a specific right or wrong time frame and it may be more of what a trader feels comfortable with. But I’d like to know, based on your experience, what is your preferred time frame for footprint chart intraday.
Great question Eric. If you’re trying to build a trading strategy purely around footprint charts for intraday I would say a 5 or 15 minute chart. Go any higher than this and you’re going to see very few setups intraday. You can go lower but the problem you’re going to run into is you will find it difficult to interpret the data fast enough in a live market, especially if you’re a newer trader.
My personal trading strategy uses footprint charts as a validation tool and to determine support and resistance levels, not as the trigger for a setup. When validating my setups from my strategy I’m looking at a 5 minute chart. As discussed in the post I’m looking for B&P shaped volume profiles and imbalances to confirm my trade setup. To determine my major support and resistance areas I drop to a daily chart and simply look at the volume profile and look for high volume nodes.
If you’re trying to build a strategy around it you may want to look at including something like the NYSE Tick or any other order flow indicators. There’s an entire post on them in the blog.
I a really finding your footprint chart chartbook useful. Thanks for sharing.
A question I have is if you would happen to know how to insert the bar POC to print in each bar? For example, it could either be a colored line between a set of numbers, or maybe the volume bar for that price gets printed with a colored border.
One of the things I’ve been trying to watch is if the POC for each bar is rising or declining and by how much.
Glad you like the post! I don’t turn the POC on because you can spot the point of control with my template just by looking at the volume profile within the bar. I do use it, especially when trailing my stops I will go a tick or two behind the POC of prior bar when trading the ES. If you want to highlight it you just have to turn it on.
https://www.sierrachart.com/index.php?page=doc/NumbersBars.php#Input_HighlightPointOfControlIn Explains how to do it.
I see that in your example of studying longer term support and resistance levels that you use a Daily timeframe footprint with volume profile, displaying 5 trading days. Is this generally how far your look back period is for plotting support and resistance levels?
Thanks for you excellent blog posts.
It really depends Eric. I make sure I go back far enough that I have support and resistance levels that haven’t been intersected yet. As an example, of the market is tanking and breaking through lots of support levels you may need to go back further. Typically a week is enough, but I will go back further to find longer term S&R levels that maybe have been tested a few times already.
Great write up! It’s funny my footprint chart has gravitated towards a similar setup. I also overlay a heatmap of the DOM orders to show large resting paper, sort of a liquidity magnet.
Hey Pat! Thanks for the comment! That’s awesome! If you’re not already, you should look into using volume delta as well. I will be writing a post on it shortly.
Those confirmation cues are amazing. I said that I added in the volume profile to my footprint chart cuz I had a feeling I could use it to help with my timing, and Bam you’re b/p signals were the answer! I do use the “Vol Bar Diff” on the Calculated Number Bars study to get a color visual on the relative volume. Works like a charm.
What’s your method of scaling into a trade? Do you have a different set of cues?
Hey Pat! Thanks for the comment! I don’t scale into trades, I scale out. It would be really difficult to scale into trades considering most of my targets are 3-6 points. If you’re swing trading or long term then it’s much more doable.
I’ve tried to register but not received anything in my email?
Hey Matt, something was messed up on our registration after an update. You will receive all future emails.
Hey Adam, I liked your article on the footprint chart tried to download your charts but all I got was a 1 min candlestick chart I am with Infinity broker and have the latest version of SC? Great material and thank you for sharing. would like to learn more from you.
Thanks for the comment Shawn. In order to get number bars with Infinity you have to make sure your charting package is on the correct level. I believe it’s level 5.
Bonjour et merci pour ce travail de partage, je suis débutant moins de 6 mois sur les futurs.
Hello Bruno! Unfortunately I don’t speak French, but google translate does! Thanks for the kind words!
Awesome article Adam! I would love to see a blog post, or a video, on exactly how you set up your chart in Sierra. And may I ask if you know a good chart template to download? Thanks for all you do!
Hey Bryan, thanks for the comment! I will make a video in the near future on how to install it but you can hop on youtube and do a search and find some examples as well. For the footprint template I personally use you can download it when you become a JT Insider.
Thanks Adam! Your blog is awesome and I really appreciate all the info you share with us!
Thanks Bryan! I appreciate the kind words!
Adam, this is the best footprint tutorial online by far, it’s really clear and concise, thank you.
I’m also trying to learn Sierra Chart, and was interested to see your numbers/footprint chart, however the link ‘JTFootprintChart’ seems to be a Pivot Point’s chart.
Morning Dan! Thanks for the comment!!!! I just checked on my end and it is the correct file. I think what may be wrong is you aren’t setup for Level 5 Package with Sierra Charts at your broker. Either message your broker or simply throw the number bars study on a chart. If it doesn’t work you’re not setup on Level 5 for Sierra Charts. A few months back they made the change that you have to have Level 5 for number bars.
I have the same problem, it shows Pivot Points in the studies. And I have number bars on other charts in SC.
Hey Martin, that shouldn’t be the case. Can you email me some screen shots?
Hi Adam, thanks for sharing the knowledge! Do you know if there’s software that provides footprint charts for equities? Greetings from the Netherlands.
Thanks for the comment Mitchell! It probably depends on your broker and there feed but sierra charts can be used for equities. I think interactive brokers supports sierra charts. Ninja Trader also supports equities and has footprint charts. I think it may be a third party add on. I have never used ninja trader.
Hey Adam, I wanted to invite you to take a look at the footprint custom system study I created using the evaluation methods you provided. I’d like your input since you are obviously more experienced with the method. The source code is there and open source, in case you think I’m some nefarious internet goon lol. But please take it for a spin and let me know what you think. The install and study instructions are in the Read Me.
Feel free to e-mail me with feedback!!
Morning Pat! Wow looks pretty awesome! I haven’t installed it yet but I will and will leave some feedback after messing around with it. Super cool!
Pat, thank you for this! I have followed the project on GitHub. Are you planning on making any further enhancements to system? I would also be interested in contributing if needed. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
How can there be more buyers than sellers? If 100 shares are bought at 10 that means someone sold 100 shares at ten also.
Morning Elyse. Thanks for the comment and great question! Something I should have done a better job clarifying in the post.
You are correct, there always has to be an equal amount of buyers and sellers for a trade to occur at a given price. A better way to state is we’re looking at the aggressiveness of buyers versus sellers at a given price level.
Let’s use your example to clarify it a little more.
Assume the current market is at $9.90 X $10.00 and only 10 shares traded on the bid at $9.90 and 100 shares traded on the offer at $10.00. I would interpret this as a sign of more aggressive buying than selling, and if the aggression continues price will go up.
That doesn’t mean the buyers will be right in this situation, maybe there’s a huge limit order at $10.00 that won’t trade out and price reverses. There’s always more factors you have to take into account when evaluating a footprint chart as discussed in this post.
You mentioned you were going to publish a post on Cumulative delta and absorption/exhausion? Also, your template for Sierra Charts does not have any numbers bars studies in it. Could you please provide this as I am trying to replicate your footprint charting in my platform.
Thanks for the comment Sam. I’ve just been really busy, hope to get to it in the next week or so. You have to make sure you have level 5 charts for Sierra in order for number bars to work. Contact your broker to check. If you still have a problem and you’re on Level 5 charts let me know.
Hi Adam, Yes I have a subscription to Package no 5 (Delayed data with Numbers bars) so not sure what the problem is. I am plotting Numbers bars at present but cannot replicate the format you have shown which I believe is a lot more effective because of it’s simplicity. Thanks for your help!!
Sam I just downloaded and reinstalled it and it works for me. Make sure you’re on the right chart in the chartbook. There’s actually three in total: A Footprint Chart, Chart of Nyse Tick and chart of the A/D.
I use Sierra Charts too, and I don’t know how to extend stacked imbalances in time drawing horizontal lines forward or rectangles. Unfinished auctions have a configuration to draw and extend in time, but is it possible to do with stacked imbalances?
Hey Paco, thanks for the comment.I know it’s possible as there are some third parties that provide this type of functionality.Check out Pat’s comment below and what he coded.
Are you able to put together some comments on the use of delta and cumulative delta as you might use it?? Seems like it’s a concept that thrown a lot these days but not so widely understood and clearly explained as to its usefulness in helping generate trading decisions. Thanks in advance. Sam
Sam I’m going to start a post on it later today and should have it published by Saturday or Sunday. You will receive an email with a link when it’s posted.
I have put in numerous hours into learning the footprint. This by far is truly the best I have seen. The time you took to write this up, and being free, could only end with a thanks. This is comprehensive and concise. So thanks for this site you’ve created and if there is something I could do to show my support let me know.
Paddy thank you for the kind words! I love hearing feedback, especially when it’s good! I’ve been really busy and much more involved in one of my other businesses than I had planned. I hope to be wrapping up my end of it over the next 30 days at which point I plan on producing a lot more content. Once again thank you!
Great write up Adam, I tried to use Footprint when I started and had no luck so switched to the DOM Ladder. The time I spent on the ladder has given me a great view of order flow, recently when I saw a footprint I realized it made more sense now because of my experience with the ladder. I found this very helpful thank you.
I usually look for absorption by passive buyers on the bid interested to see how Cumulative Delta can help, noticed you said you will release a write up on that, is there somewhere I can find it?
Thanks Maz! Honestly I personally don’t pay any attention to the DOM. I feel it can mislead traders, but that’s just my opinion. If you find it useful in your trading more power to you.
I will be writing a post on cumulative delta, I just need to find the time. I’m getting the Order Flow Pro Workshop ready to launch. You will receive an email when I get the post published. Thanks again!
Absolutely fantastic description of your footprint chart. Great read.
In case anyone still needs this, I had a similar issue opening up the template. Comes up blank but if you look under Studies they will be there. Just save them as a study collection and reapply them or open up a new chartbook and apply it there. Worked for me.
Thanks Craig! To install the template you download the file and put it in the Data folder. Location may be different on your computer but the folder on mine is Disk (C:)>SierraChart>SierraChartTransactMA>Data. After you have placed the file in the data folder you can open up sierra charts and go to File>Open Chartbook>JTFootprintTemplate.Cht>Open
I’m still having problems with using the template, it comes up as a blank worksheet. Would you be able to upload it again?
Opening it as a Chartbook doesn’t work for me , wonder if i can open it as a “studies” like Craig said.
*update* I found the solution:
If anyone’s having trouble opening the chart, here’s what you do:
1) Go to studies (F6) and “Save studies as Study Collection”
2) Open your charter book, press Analysis (toolbar) and click on your loaded studies.
Nice article, thanks. I did get confused in the Unfinished Auctions section. Regarding the tops of the candles at the 0 prints, it was explained that price couldn’t go higher because there weren’t any more passive buyers, and limit orders were discussed. In my mind (perhaps incorrectly no doubt), I want to keep thinking it should be framed as “there are no more aggressive buyers lifting the offer there, and simultaneously no aggressive sellers hitting that bid diagonally down.” Can you explain why you brought up limit orders there and if my way of thinking is incorrect? Thanks!
Thanks Kevin, good question. You’re correct in your thinking. I bring up passive buyers and sellers with large stop limit orders because if they were there they would clear out the level and take the next offer above or hit the bid below resulting in some volume rather than “0”.
Belíssimo artigo!Para mim uma nova maneira de melhorar a performace nos traders.
Thanks for great info and amazing site!
Do you know what is the case these days (Aug 2020) for foot-print chart
out of the box for TradeStation or Think-or-swing?
I’ve never traded with TS nor have I ever used TradingView for any sort of live trading. If you do a google search for trade station footprint charts it looks like there is a third party app for Trade Station. Best bet is to email them both directly and see if it’s something they plan on developing. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
Thank you for making footprint charts easy to understand+interpret, and this guide really helped with “smart tightening” of my stops on those
For tick (or volume/range) chart traders who want to involve footprint charts more, do you recommend still using a 5/15min footprint or have it consistent with the chart type we trade?
Hi Raman, thanks for the comment. No doubt you can use volume or range bars with footprints. I guess it depends on your strategy and what you’re trying to accomplish with footprints. If you’re looking for key support levels and ways to manage your position then I would go a little longer time frame.
Hi Adam, appreciate the fast response and yep, S/R levels for risk management is what I’m going for. Especially finding the prices within large reversal candles where heavy imbalances were, to place a stop loss within rather than above/below them.
Mainly I trade ES on a 2000 tick chart so going to experiment with 4000-8000 ticks for the footprints.
Morning Raman, I also suggest you add a volume profile to your bars and pay attention for b and p profiles. May work as an additional confirmation for whatever your trading system is….
Hi Adam, yep doing exactly that (unfortunately my platform can’t show bid x ask and vol profile at the same time so have to do it in two charts).
Thanks again for all the recommendations!
Good explanation. Thanks mate. Have you tried to automate trade based on your footprint strategy? This could be difficult but would be great.
Darn I also wish TradingView provided this. I already have a subscription with them and can’t cancel that for a year to move to Sierra!
Sulaiman thanks for the comment. I have not tried to automate it. I have automated some strategies in the past but I personally believe you have to have some trader discretion if you’re doing anything other than high frequency trading.
Automated strategies that actually work typically are arbitraging an opportunity that doesn’t last forever in the market. Most of these automated strategies are built around extremely fast scalp opportunities, which my strategy is not. (I’m talking a few seconds or minutes) Considering all of the things I look at it would be very difficult to automate this strategy.
hi Adam wonderful post and i find it very useful this is actually not a question exact on footprint trading these days im trying to build a strategy based on market profile and foot print and im still a novice and i only trade currencies there are some i have some doubt that is these footprints and market profile does works in forex because all mentors are talking about options or futures and they have exact open and closing times but in forex its a 24 hour market so some of those principals on books i find it very hard to apply into my forex day trading strategy as an example market profile open drive analysis,overnight inventories(there is no overnight in forex) hoping a reply soon thank you
Hi Danushka. I am not familiar with open drive analysis. I also only trade futures and it is a 24 hour market just like the spot forex market. What is your question exactly?
i really wanna know when it comes to forex how can i find the initial balance and overnight session
Thanks for the comment. Forex is a 24 hour market so it depends what session you’re trying to find the initial balance for.
Everyone defines the initial balance differently but typically you’re going to look at the first 30 minutes or 60 minutes.
Amazing!!! Tks a lot Adam!!!
Where can i change the buy/sell imbalance? What options settings would this be under studies?
“Note: 300% is what I use for my buy and sell imbalances. Most charting packages allow you to change this.”
Hi Randy, this explains how to do it. https://www.sierrachart.com/index.php?page=doc/NumbersBars.php#TextColoringBasedOnDiagonalDominantSideAskVolBidVolPercentage
I just wanted to put it out there, that after learning Adam’s system, I got accepted into a USA prop firm to trade a large account live.
It really is a concise and powerful method and once you have put in enough screen time you will start to auto-trade with great confidence.
If you are on the fence, then its time to “jump” into Jumpstart trading! 🙂
I’m interested more in footprint charts and Forex. Are these footprint charts applicable to Forex and how do you access them?
Yes you can use footprint charts to trade Forex but there is one caveat. There’s no centralized exchange for Forex so you’re always going to question the quality of your data. There’s a lot of charting packages that offer footprints like such as Sierra Charts and MotiveWave to name a few.
Thank you. Are there foot print charts for spot forex?
Hi Geoffrey. You can get footprint charts for Forex but there’s no centralized exchange for Forex so you’re always going to question the quality of your data. There’s a lot of charting packages that offer footprints. Sierra Charts, MotiveWave, Ninja Trader are a few you can check out.
Adam, its intersting to note your above comment on spot forex having no centralized exchange.
Would Sierra Charts be more useful for trading Spot Gold (xau/usd) ?
Hi Mensa, you can use Sierra Charts to trade gold. My comment was really referring to the value of Footprint Charts when trading the fx spot market. Considering there’s no centralized exchange you’re always going to question the value of your data. A footprint candle is generated by executed trades, thus the data really could be misleading. I don’t trade the spot market so it’s something you would have to test to see if it provides an edge.
Thank you for this detailed explanation!
I’ve noticed some traders have 3 lines displayed at the bottom of the chart showing the delta, can you explain what these mean and how you are using them?
Also, you may want to correct this: “708 divided by 198 equals 9.56”
Thanks for catching that Guy. I have a post on delta in the blog that you can read. In terms of 3 lines displayed on delta I’m not sure. May just be a horizontal marker for something like the 0 line and maybe one above and below that some traders may consider breakout zones.
Thanks Adam for your contribution to the trade community. I used the daily footprint with volume profile overlay as you
Recommended in this article and found it super helpful. Thank you. Do you
Wait for the us session half an hour later to gauge a good session profile for the day? I appreciate it again. May want to write an article on you our futures site.
Morning Peter, thanks for the comment. I will trade in the first half hour but it has to be a perfect setup for me. I usually try to wait at least 15 minutes after the open before taking any trades. Especially during the higher volatility we’ve experienced over the past couple of years.
Thank you Adam. I appreciate your reply and advice.
thank you for this GREAT job ! I didn’t read such a crystal clear guide to footprint before yours ! I tried to join the JT Insider but i didn’t receive the email … I’d like to use your Sierrachart footprint templates 😉
Thank you for your help
Thanks Renaud! Not sure what happened but I just emailed you the link to download them.
just received ! Thank you Adam !
Amazing job…Thank you…Been trying to learn footprint trading for years…. I’d like to use your Sierrachart footprint templates if possible ?
Thanks for the comment Chris. Sign up as JT Insider and you get emailed templates for MotiveWave and Sierra.
Hi Adams, Just read through your article on footprint chart and it’s good to gain more knowledge on it. I trade BTC and i use Exochart for footprint. When you are using the footprint chart on the lower time frame, what tick size do you use? Also is it on the same time frame you draw you horizontal identifying support/resistance with stack imbalances, Unfinished auctions. when you talk about reversal bullish/bearish, is it just anywhere on the chart you look for this reversal or you want to look at it when price hit a key level, eg Daily level, fibonanci levels, former highs and lowers, POCs
Thanks for the comment. I will use a stacked imbalance in certain situation to trail my stop behind but other than that I don’t really use unfinished auctions or stacked imbalances for much. I also don’t trade off of tick charts but if you want something for the ES, I’d look at a 512 tick chart.
I personally look for setups near high volume nodes, prior day h/l, overnight h/l, swing h/l, and vwap.
Thank you adams for the reply. How do you get your overnight H/l, swing H/L. And what settings do you use on your vwap. When you talk about high volume nodes, are you taking about the volume profile on footprint.
Overnight H/L it depends on your charting package. Swing H/L you just look for them and plot them on your chart. VWAP I use 1 day. I look at high volume nodes on all different types of timeframes. You can start with the daily chart. Again, all of this really depends on whatever strategy your trading. What I personally use may not be relevant to your personal strategy.
Hi Adam do you have a recommendation of tick size footprint on the ES and NQ. Also you did a great job explaining he daily footprint for key levels it looks great. Thanks.
Thanks Peter! I personally don’t use tick charts but I know a lot of people use a 512 Tick chart for the ES.
Hi Adams, like you say, the zero is unfinished auction.. how do you decipher and use the information of the zero on a footprint chart candle as a trading strategy.. What timeframe do you look to enter your trade setup when there is?
I personally don’t use unfinished auctions with my strategy that I teach. You can use them as price targets like I mention in the post. In terms of timeframe, whatever timeframe you would like based off your strategy and backtesting.
Do footprint charts work with spot Forex? I am obtaining strange charts with traded volume only on the bid side on NinjaTrader platform. Is this an anomaly?
Hi Geoffrey, you would have to contact NinjaTrader. You could have a few spots where nothing traded on the offer because of a large market order hitting the bid…. However, considering Forex isn’t a centralized exchange, there’s always going to be questions regarding the validity of the data.
Your article is real gold. Can we use footprint chart for stocks like TSLA and AAPL ? Does your course cover trading strategies for techs?
Thanks for the valuable information.
Thanks for the kind words Zena. You could trade it with equities but it’s not something I have done in years. I greatly prefer futures over equities.
Hi Adam thank you for this very detailed documentation and overview of your footprint strategies and application. I also have Sierra Charts however I’m fairly new to footprint and struggling with all the different options and variations on setting up the Footprint on SC. Would it be possible for you to assist? I would be extremely grateful for any advice.
Hey Moe, sign up to become a JT Insider, you get my template for Sierra.
Hello Adam ,
i read through your content on footprint and its pretty informative Waooow thanks alot.
I am going to signup and try make a setup. Have seen few traders using footprint recently and are dong pretty well.
Thanks for the good work.
Will return incase i struggle with settings.
What broker do you use that includes Sierra Charts?
Hi JR, I no longer use Sierra Charts, I made the switch to MotiveWave about a year ago. A ton of brokers have Sierra but if you’re looking to trade a smaller account Optimus Futures is a good pick.
I really enjoyed reading your view of footprints. Thanks a lot! My questions is: Do you usually wait for the candlestick you are looking at to close? Often times they are too big and there is not a good R:R ratio in the trades I take, thankss!
Thanks for the comment Daniel. I personally don’t all the time but it depends on your trading strategy. There’s not a right or a wrong way as long as your strategy is profitable.
Thanks for the great information Adam!
Forgive me if you’ve already answered this in another area and I missed it. I am a fellow Mac user and am very interested in using Motivewave for order flow. Obviously a broker/feed is needed for this platform. Which do you use for Motivewave? I’m leaning Amp which offers Rithmic, but would appreciate any input on the subject.
Also, do you use any mobile (Ipad) platform on the road since Motivewave doesn’t offer this?
Hi Scott, thanks for the comment. For data I use CQG because Rithmic still doesn’t offer the NYSE Tick. I review several in chapter 4 of the Futures Trading Guide that you can checkout.
As for the mobile platform I don’t. If I’m traveling and trading I simply bring my MacBook.
I am looking to learn footprint charts. Between Sierra Charts vs Motivewave, which one would you recommend? I use Windows.
Appreciate your time.
Hi CD, thanks for the comment. Sierra is a great platform and lightening quick, I traded on it for seven or eight years but I wanted something native to Mac so I switched to MotiveWave. Sierra’s only knocks is their GUI is dated, but still a great platform.
I wonder if this system (footprint charts) are working with swing trading (Shares) in particular.
Hi Sirag, thanks for the comment. Footprint are definitely useful for swing trading stocks. I’d check out volume imprints for S&R longer term.
Hey Adam, stumbled on this blog and its great! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and everything mentioned were well explained, concise and made a lot of sense. Im a mac user and am looking at motivewave, do you know of a minimum plan I need that will have all the tools you mentioned in this article? Looks like there’s Community, Standard, Order Flow and Pro. Which one of these are sufficient just for charting purposes? Thanks!
Hi Huy, thanks for the comment! The Order Flow package at $49.
Thanks Adam! so i’ve checked out motivewave and this may be the best thing ever. Im a programmer as well and the api it provides with java sdk is great.
Another super cool thing, even tho TDAmeritrade doesn’t have footprint charts, Motivewave integrates with TDAmeritrade so you can directly use your datafeed on trade on your tdameritrade account through motivewave. Awesome stuff!
Thanks for the comment Huy! I’m glad to hear you like it, I’m a big fan as well.
Thanks for the post, enjoyed it. Came here because I was searching for a viable alternative to the order book (the “tape”) for very short term trades – do you think footprint analysis could replace reading the tape ?
Thanks for the comment Chris. I don’t think it will replace a Level II, as advertised pricing (bids and offers) is still valuable information, especially on thinner securities. Over the 20 years of my career there’s no doubt that the transparency of a Level II has greatly diminished, primarily due to algo’s… However, it’s still valuable when being applied to the proper securities.
Hi Adam. Great post! I have a question regarding footprint charts and Forex trading. This is something that also confuses me.
Some people above have asked you about the applicability of footprint charts to Forex trading. In your answers you have mentioned that, in such case, one should question the quality of the data (data used to build the footprint, I guess) because the Forex market is not centralized (there is not any exchange for the Forex market – like, for example, the NYSE – from where every and each broker get identical data, right? ). By saying that, do you mean that the footprint chart in a Forex trading platform (say Metatrader or NinjaTrader) would be less useful as for price movement predictions, because it is based only on the data our broker have access to, i.e.. buy and sell orders of our broker’s clients worldwide?
In that case, if we change broker, we would get a different footprint chart for the same currency pair and time instant. The same would be true for a volume profile. Am I right?
Hi John, thank you for the comment! Check out the market data feed post I just published, should answer all of your questions regarding data.