The Ultimate Guide To Profiting From Footprint Charts 

Footprint Charts

You’re about to learn how I used footprint charts to 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 will provide you to help validate your trades, improve your entries and exits, and spot major reversals. 

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 GPC were pure Level 2 traders.

A level 2 quote gave us the ability to read order flow as well as determine logical levels for stops and profits.

I would use the level 2 in order to help determine when large buyers or sellers were entering the market and to identify key support and resistance levels. I profited by following large players as they entered the market or by personally taking out support and resistance levels that I knew a lot of retail traders were using as their outs.

Level 2 Quote

Then things changed, real quick…Around 2008 algorithms began to account for over 50% of market volume. This resulted in a lot of false or fake orders in the market that would get pulled, making a Level 2 very difficult and at times impossible to read.

I had hit a peak in my career. Like most other Level 2 traders, the algorithms were making the markets less transparent. I reached a point where I had to adapt my trading strategy or my career would have been over.

Introducing Footprint Charts – Key Concepts

Footprint charts bring market demand and supply to life. Footprint charts allow you to interpret order flow easily, similar to level 2 quotes in the past. Let’s take a look at some of the basics.

As you’re probably aware, the price of any security depends on whether you wish to buy or sell. If you wish to buy the price you pay is the ask or the offer price. If you wish to sell the price you pay is known as the bid.

Bid Ask Quote

When you want to buy a security, in this case the e-Mini S&P 500 futures contract seen above, the price you will pay is the ask. (What the counter-party is asking) If you wish to sell, the price you will pay is the bid. (What the counter-party is bidding)

The act of buying is known as taking the offer or lifting the ask. The act of selling 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.

In the example below, the current market on the ES (S&P 500) 3010.75 by 3011.00.

Trading DOM

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 in and out of the market.

Footprint charts give us the ability to see the data that we’re actually interested in, executed orders. Not the transactions that are advertised of potentially trading in the trading DOM.

Note: Throughout this post I will be referencing the ES (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.

Basic Footprint Chart

The chart above is a very basic footprint chart of the ES using a one minute time frame.

Let’s zoom into the candle on the far right to study the ins and outs of a footprint candle.

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.

What’s important to understand is because 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 by 2874.25, 113 contracts traded on the bid at 2874.00 and 173 contracts traded on the offer at 2874.25.

Now you have a basic understanding of what makes up a footprint chart. Next let’s take a look at how you can begin to use these charts to determine potential breakouts, reversals, support, and resistance.

Buy and Sell Imbalances

What makes the price of security move? It’s pretty simple… buyers and sellers.

If we have more buyers than sellers price is driven up. If we have more sellers than buyers price is driven down. Economics 101…

Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to quickly visualize when large buyers or sellers enter the market? You can!

To do this we can look at buy and sell imbalances on a footprint chart. Imbalances are simply a lot more buyers than sellers, or a lot more sellers than buyers at a given price.

Buy and Sell Imbalances

On the above chart you will notice some of the volumes highlighted in red and blue.

The ones highlighted in blue 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 0ver 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 12:07. (far right side)

You will notice a buy imbalance highlighted in blue at the 2864.25 level. A total of 708 trades took place on the offer at 2864.25 versus 198 trades that took place on the bid at 2864.00. 708 divided by 198 equals 3.58, over a 300 percent difference. Thus a buy imbalance…

On the same bar you will notice a sell imbalance as well at the 2864.75 X 2864.50 level.

Stacked Buy and Sell Imbalances

Stacked imbalances are simply multiple buy or multiple sell imbalances in a tight price range.

Imbalances are very useful to determine support and resistance levels. If a trader or traders are aggressively buying or selling at a particular price zone, seen by stacked imbalances, odds are they are going to defend this level if price comes back to it.

Stacked Buy Imbalances

On the above chart you will notice several buy imbalances that are stacked on top of one another on the 11:45 candle from 2865.50 to 2867. On the proceeding candle at 11:50, sellers pushed price down into the stacked buy imbalances but failed to go any lower as buyers defended this zone resulting in a rally.

I find it very beneficial to project these price zones forward on my charts when they occur to designate future support and resistance areas.

Notice I said zones. You may have 4 or 5 imbalances stacked on top of one another with a few price levels in between without imbalances. These should still be considered valid stacked imbalances.

Imbalances can be used in a number of ways and we will look at some real trade examples later in this post.

Unfinished Auctions

Security prices move up and down in auctions that seek to discover where buying and selling can occur, thus creating a market. 

In a given market, prices will move up until they reach a point that nobody is interested in buying. Likewise, prices will move lower until they reach a point where nobody is interested in selling at that level.

Unfinished Auction or Unfinished Business

On the above chart you can see the zero bid print at the highs of the price bars designated with green arrows. A zero bid at the highs of a bar tells you that the market never ticked above this level, there simply wasn’t enough buyers.

You can see the same scenario on the sell side designated by the red arrows where there’s a zero print on the offer at the lows.

The zero bid tells us price couldn’t go a tick higher because there were no passive buyers looking to buy. Likewise, we can see where there were no passive sellers when there is a 0 on the offer.

Unfinished Auction or Unfinished Business Examples

Unfinished business or an unfinished auctions occur when there isn’t a zero at the top of the bar on the bid or bottom of a bar on the offer. (Grey Arrows)

Unfinished auctions act like magnets, drawing price back to them. It’s likely the last buyer in the auction wasn’t found in upward trend or the last seller in a downward trend when an unfinished auction occurs.

Bullish trends will end when the market reaches a price where no passive buyers are looking to buy.

Bearish trends will end when the market reaches a price where no passive sellers are looking to sell.

A passive buyer or seller is simply a buyer or seller who is more interested in long term gains versus a day trader looking to scalp profit out of smaller moves.

Unfinished auctions in themselves aren’t a trading strategy. As you will see later, I use unfinished auctions to help confirm if a high or low was put in and a potential new trend. They are very useful to validate trades and I will also use them for price targets seen later.

Footprint Volume Profile 

Footprint Volume Profile

The above chart already includes the buy and sell imbalances we discussed earlier. You should be able to spot all the unfinished auctions by now.

The final element we will add to the footprint charts is a volume profile. The volume profile can be seen inside of each candle by the grey shading which is proportionate to the amount of volume that traded at that particular price level within that candle.

The volume profile allows you to quickly visualize potential reversals and the strength of a potential move.

B and P Volume Profiles

I determine the strength of a potential reversal by the shape of the volume profile. We discuss this more later but for now just know you want to see a “b” shaped volume profile when going long and a “p” shaped volume profile when going short as seen above.

Footprint Trading Strategies

There’s a number of different footprint chart styles and ways they can be implemented into your trading strategy.

I personally use footprint charts to help determine reversals and key support and resistance levels.

Footprints Charts can be used to validate trades as well as manage positions once in a trade.

With that being said, let’s look at some examples.

Bullish and Bearish Reversals

Not all reversals are created equal, or at least that’s what I think 🙂 When determining the likelihood of price reversing using a footprint chart I look for the following four events.

  1. The majority of the volume should have traded at the high of a candle for a bearish reversal and the low of the candle for a bullish reversal. When this occurs there’s a higher probability that a reversal is going to happen. The bulls or bears, depending on the direction of the move, did everything they could to take prices higher or lower but failed. The failure is confirmed by the volume spike.
  2. You want to see buy imbalances for a bullish reversal and sell imbalances for a bearish reversal as these larger traders are likely to defend their positions.
  3. No unfinished auctions. We want to confirm that all buyers (bearish reversal) or sellers (bullish reversal) have been exhausted.
  4. Higher volume relative to surrounding candles. Simply put, more volume equals more likely ...

Bearish and Bullish Volume Profiles

On the chart above you can see the bearish reversal met three of the four conditions.

The majority of the volume occurred in the top of the footprint candle. When markets are moving fast you can quickly find these setups by looking for “p” or “b” shaped volume profiles. 

“p” shaped profiles are going to be bearish and “b” shaped profiles are going to be bullish.

Next, there was no unfinished business as can be seen by the 0x22 bid/ask print at the top of the candle.

Finally, you can see a volume spike relative to surrounding candles.

The bullish reversal met the same conditions as the bearish reversal but we also had a large buy imbalance of 1037 at 2869.50. Remember, an imbalance of this size signals large buyers entering the market who most likely will defend their position. It would have even been even a stronger confirmation if there was some stacked buy imbalances at this level.

Intraday Support and Resistance Levels

Footprint charts are amazing for determining intraday support and resistance zones.

Any time any of the three events below occur, draw an extended horizontal line until that level breaks.

  1. Unfinished auctions
  2. Large buy or sell imbalances relative to surrounding bars
  3. Stacked imbalances

Footprint Chart Intraday Support and Resistance

On the chart above you can see the stacked imbalance would have given you a logical place to go short on a retest. On the second retest of the stacked imbalance we had a “p” volume bar form without any unfinished auction, thus signaling weakness.

A logical place to take profit had you taken this trade could have been at the unfinished auction zone near $2847.00.

Once the stacked imbalance broke on the third attempt, a logical take profit had you been long would have been the unfinished auction near 2855.00.

Long Term Support and Resistance Levels

Long term support and resistance levels can easily be found by simply switching to a daily footprint chart and using the volume profile to highlight high volume nodes.

Footprint Chart Longterm Support and Resistance

You will be amazed at how well this works. Price tends to bound back and forth between these ranges.

When you’re looking at them intraday and a support or resistance level holds and you generate a signal from your system you could target the next support or resistance zone.

Validating Entries with Footprint Charts

One of the key elements to any day trading strategy is determining which setups are valid. With my personal strategy I use a number of footprint validations. Let’s look at some examples.

Validating Signals

Using the same chart from earlier, let’s assume your strategy generates a long signal anytime between 12:55 and 13:00. I would look at the chart and notice the stacked sell imbalance around the 2850 level. I would pass on any buy signals from my strategy until this level was broken knowing that that it’s likely to be resistance.

This next chart shows how looking at the volume profile at the start of a move will help you determine the strength or validity of a signal.

Validating Entries with Volume Profile

The green checkmarks show where we had either b volume profiles for bullish moves or p profiles for bearish moves.

The red x’s show you where we didn’t have an ideal volume profile to go long or short.

Notice how all the invalid volume profiles marked with the red x had very little follow through when compared to the valid volume profiles.

Improving Trade Management 

Most traders really struggle once they enter a position. They’re like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. (A strong reason you need a solid trading plan)

They take profits too fast and get out of losing positions too slow. Sound familiar???

Trail Stops Behind Imbalances

You already have seen how you can use unfinished auctions for price targets.

Another option is to trail your stop until you’re taken out. You can drop down to a shorter time frame and trail your stops behind large imbalances and high volume areas as seen above.

Footprint Chart Benefits

Footprint Chart Software

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.

Sierra Charts – This is the charting package I personally use for my footprint charts and where the images were generated from for this post. Sierra calls them number bars. It’s offered for free with my futures broker but a number of brokers support this charting package. (View Brokers Here)

Sierra Charts are extremely light weight demanding very little from your processor, yet the platform is extremely robust.

Xtick Charts – For you forex traders looking for a footprint chart package, XTick delivers. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any functioning products for MT4 or MT5. If you have, please leave a comment!

AMS Trading Group – They are the founders of DeltaPrint. I’m not familiar with them but they offer a free trial so check them out.

Ninja Trader – Ninja trader pro suite offers an order flow package that I’ve heard positive things about. Ninja Trader is a popular platform for a lot of futures and forex traders.

Bookmap – Bookmap is a highly visual trading platform for order flow traders. The pricing is pretty reasonable and they have a free version to checkout.

Jigsaw Trading – Jigsaw offers a platform very similar to bookmap.

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 doesn’t offer something in the near future as I know there have been a lot of requests from other traders.

Trading View – Unfortunately TradingView doesn’t support footprint charts yet, but again I expect they will in the near future. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you should. They offer some sweet charting options for free and it’s a great community.

Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with any entirely free charting packages that support footprint charts. If you are please leave a comment below!

Check out all of our charting software reviews here!


Footprint charts have drastically improved my trading over the years. Implement them properly, and you will see the same results.

You can build an entire trading strategy around footprint charts as many successful traders already have, or you can try using them to validate your trade signals as I do.

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 system 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

So what do you think of footprint charts?

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  1. Hi Adam,
    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.

    Lt Eric

    1. 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. Here’s a post on it Next week I will be writing a post on cumulative delta, also known as volume delta, which will discuss absorption and exhaustion. You will receive an email when it comes out considering you’re an insider.

  2. Hi Adam,

    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.


    Lt Eric

    1. Hey Eric,

      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. Explains how to do it.

  3. Hi Adam,

    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.

    Lt Eric

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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!

    1. 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.

      Many thanks

      1. 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.

  7. Hi Adam, thanks for sharing the knowledge! Do you know if there’s software that provides footprint charts for equities? Greetings from the Netherlands.

    1. 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.

  8. 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!!

    1. 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!

    2. 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 Thanks!

  9. How can there be more buyers than sellers? If 100 shares are bought at 10 that means someone sold 100 shares at ten also.

    1. 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.

  10. Hi Eric

    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 Sam

    1. 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.

  11. 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!!

    1. 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.

  12. Hi Adam,

    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?

    1. 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.

  13. Hi Adam

    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

    1. 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.

  14. Adam,
    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.

    1. 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!

  15. 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?

    1. 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!

  16. 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.

    1. 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

      1. Hey Adam,

        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.


        1. *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.

  17. 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!

    1. 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”.

  18. Hi Adam!

    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?


    1. Hi Elad!

      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.

  19. Hi Adam,

    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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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….

          1. 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!

  20. 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!

    1. 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.

  21. 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

    1. 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?

        1. Thanks for the comment. Forex is a 24 hour market so it depends what session you’re trying to find the initial balance for. Read this post:

          Everyone defines the initial balance differently but typically you’re going to look at the first 30 minutes or 60 minutes.

  22. Hi 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.”

    Thank you

  23. Hi Guys
    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! 🙂

  24. Hi,
    I’m interested more in footprint charts and Forex. Are these footprint charts applicable to Forex and how do you access them?

    1. Hi Joe,

      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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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) ?

        1. 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.

  25. Hi,
    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”

    1. 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.

  26. Peter Karaverdian

    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.

    1. 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.

  27. Hi Adam,
    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

  28. Amazing job…Thank you…Been trying to learn footprint trading for years…. I’d like to use your Sierrachart footprint templates if possible ?

  29. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  30. Peter Karaverdian

    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.

  31. 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?

    1. 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.

  32. 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?

    1. 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.

  33. Hi Adam,

    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.

    1. 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.

  34. 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.

    Kind Regards

  35. 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.
    Stay safe!

    1. 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.

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