Types of charts

Types of charts

Line charts: A line chart is the figure that, perhaps, automatically comes to mind when you think of a chart. The line chart has the stock price or trading volume information on the vertical or y-axis and the corresponding time period on the horizontal or x-axis). Trading volumes refer to the number of stocks of a company that were bought and sold in the market on a particular day. The closing stock price is commonly used for the construction of a line chart.

Once the two axes have been labelled, preparation of a line chart is a two-step process. In the first step, you take a particular date and plot the closing stock price as on that date on the graph. For this, you’ll put a dot on the chart in such a way that it is above the concerned date and alongside the corresponding stock price.

Let’s suppose that the closing stock price on December 31, 2014 was Rs 120. For plotting it, you’ll put a dot in such a way that it is simultaneously above the marking for that date on the x-axis, and alongside the mark that says Rs 120 on the y-axis. You will do this for all dates. In the second step, you will connect all the dots plotted with a line. That’s it! You have your line chart.

Bar charts: A bar chart is similar to a line chart. However, it is much more informative. Instead of a dot, each marking on a bar chart is in the shape of a vertical line with two horizontal lines protruding out of it, on either side. The top end of each vertical line signifies the highest price the stock traded at during a day while the bottom point signifies the lowest price at which it traded at during a day. The horizontal line to the left signifies the price at which the stock opened the trading day. The one on the right signifies the price at which it closed the trading day. As such, each mark on a bar chart tells you four things. An illustration of the marks used on a bar chart is given below:

A bar chart is more advantageous than a line chart because in addition to prices, it also reflects price volatility. Charts that show what kind of trading happened that day are called Intraday charts. The longer a line is, the higher is the difference between opening and closing prices. This means higher volatility. You should be interested in knowing about volatility because high volatility means high risk. After all, how comfortable would you be about investing in a stock whose price changes frequently and sharply?

Candlestick charts: Candlestick charts give the same information as bar charts. They only offer it in a better way. Like a bar chart is made up of different vertical lines, a candlestick chart is made up of rectangular blocks with lines coming out of it on both sides. The line at the upper end signifies the day’s highest trading price. The line at the lower end signifies the day’s lowest trading price. The day’s trading can be shown in Intraday charts. As for the block itself (called the body), the upper and the lower ends signify the day’s opening and closing price. The one that is higher of the two, is at the top, while the other one is at the bottom of the body.

What makes candlestick charts an improvement over bar charts is that they give information about volatility throughout the period under consideration. Bar charts only display volatility that occurs within each trading day. Candles on a candlestick chart are of two shades-light and dark. On days when the opening price was greater than the closing price, they are of a lighter shade (normally white). On days when the closing price was higher than the opening price, they are of a darker shade (normally black).A single day’s trading is represented by Intraday charts. Higher the variation in colour, more volatile was the price during the period. The appearance of candles on a candlestick chart is as follows:

Point and figure charts: A point and figure chart bears no resemblance with the other three kinds of charts discussed above. It was used extensively before the introduction of computers to stock analysis. These days, however, it is used by a very limited number of people. This is chiefly because it is complex to understand and provides limited information. A point and figure chart essentially displays the volatility in a stock’s price over a chosen period of time. On the vertical axis, it displays the number of times stock prices rose or fell to a particular extent. On the horizontal axis, it marks time intervals. Markings on the chart are exclusively in the form of X’s and O’s. X’s represent the number of times the stock rose by the specified limit, while O’s represent the number of times it fell by it. The specified amount used is called box size. It is directly related to the difference between markings on the y-axis.