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Very simply, a candlestick is a plot of price over time. This can be any time frame. For example, a one-minute candle is a plot of every traded price of a stock or asset during that one-minute interval. Likewise, a 5-minute candlestick is a plot of all the prices that stock traded in 5 minutes worth of time.

This is all very basic information until you realize that candlesticks are telling a story of buyers and sellers during that timeframe.


The value of candlesticks, which have been around for centuries, is in the story they tell. As you can see from the image above, a single candlestick shows the open, high, low, and close of the price action during that time interval.

To the naked eye, this might seem inconsequential. However, to the trained candlestick chart reader, all of that information is very, very useful in decision making. Here’s why.

Imagine a stock opens at $1 on a 1-minute candle but gets hit with a lot of selling pressure during the first quarter of the time interval. During the first 15 seconds, it trades below the opening price. This forms the lower wick of the candle.

Then, for the next 30 seconds, demand enters and the price of the stock moves higher to $1.50. It is safe to assume that bulls were able to overcome sellers during that time.

However, with 15 seconds remaining in the formation of the candle, selling pressure returns. This pushes the price of the stock back to $1.25, and forms the upper wick of the candle. Perhaps bulls took profits and bears re-entered the scene.

What is left is an indecision candle, which we’ll talk about later. It is a chart pattern that occurs over and over again.

Many implications can be had about this type of candle. It tells you that neither bears nor bulls are in full control. Regardless of the type of candle or implication, the point is that every candle has a story to tell. It’s also important that these chart patterns repeat, over and over again. It reveals a struggle between both forces in the market and where the stock could be headed next.

After all, it is the “hard right edge” of the chart we are always looking to anticipate. Chart patterns help us with this.


Generally speaking, there are only three broad categories of candlestick patterns: bullish, bearish, or indecision patterns. Most of these patterns require the formation of more than one candlestick to create a pattern — and there are many such patterns.

In fact, entire books have been written about all the types of candlestick patterns you can see in the market. And while they are very informative and can add value to your trading decisions, the average trader may find the myriad of patterns daunting. For that reason, most educators try to condense the types of candlestick patterns into the most popular ones.

Here are a few examples of the most popular bullish and bearish candlestick pattern combinations that you might see. Perhaps you are already familiar with a few of them?

Types of candlestick chart patterns

Let’s dig a little deeper now into what constitutes a bullish or bearish candlestick pattern.

Candlestick Chart Patterns

The Japanese have been using candlestick charts since the 17th century to analyze rice prices. Candlestick patterns were introduced into modern technical analysis by Steve Nison in his book Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques.

Candlesticks contain the same data as a normal bar chart but highlight the relationship between opening and closing prices. The narrow stick represents the range of prices traded during the period (high to low) while the broad mid-section represents the opening and closing prices for the period.

  • If the close is higher than the open - the candlestick mid-section is hollow or shaded blue/green.
  • If the open is higher than the close - the candlestick mid-section is filled in or shaded red.

candlestick components

On black and white charts the body of the candle is filled if the open is higher than the close.

candlestick components filled and unfilled

The advantage of candlestick charts is the ability to highlight trend weakness and reversal signals that may not be apparent on a normal bar chart.

Shadow and Tail

The shadow is the portion of the trading range outside of the body. We often refer to a candlestick as having a tall shadow or a long tail.

candlestick shadow and tail

  • A tall shadow indicates resistance;
  • A long tail signals support.

Candlestick Patterns

Long Lines

candlestick long lines

The long white line is a sign that buyers are firmly in control - a bullish candlestick.
A long black line shows that sellers are in control - definitely bearish.

Marubozu Candlesticks

marubozu candlesticks

Marubozu are even stronger bull or bear signals than long lines as they show that buyers/sellers have remained in control from the open to the close -- there are no intra-day retracements.

Doji Candlesticks

doji candlesticks

The doji candlestick occurs when the open and closing price are equal.

An open and close in the middle of the candlestick signal indecision. Long-legged dojis, when they occur after small candlesticks, indicate a surge in volatility and warn of a potential trend change. 4 Price dojis, where the high and low are equal, are normally only seen on thinly traded stocks.


The dragonfly occurs when the open and close are near the top of the candlestick and signals reversal after a down-trend: control has shifted from sellers to buyers.

dragonfly candlesticks

Hammer and Gravestone

hammer and gravestone candlesticks

The hammer is not as strong as the dragonfly candlestick, but also signals reversal after a down-trend: control has shifted from sellers to buyers. The shadow of the candlestick should be at least twice the height of the body.

A gravestone is identified by open and close near the bottom of the trading range. The candlestick is the converse of a hammer and signals reversal when it occurs after an up-trend.

Candlestick Formations

We now look at clusters of candlesticks. How one candlestick relates to another will often indicate whether a trend is likely to continue or reverse, or it can signal indecision, when the market has no clear direction.

Engulfing Candlesticks

engulfing candlesticks

Engulfing patterns are the simplest reversal signals, where the body of the second candlestick 'engulfs' the first. They often follow or complete doji, hammer or gravestone patterns and signal reversal in the short-term trend.

Harami Candlestick

harami candlesticks

Harami formations, on the other hand, signal indecision. Harami candlesticks indicate loss of momentum and potential reversal after a strong trend. Harami means 'pregnant' which is quite descriptive. The second candlestick must be contained within the body of the first, though the shadows may protrude slightly.

Dark Cloud Cover

dark cloud cover candlesticks

A Dark Cloud Cover pattern encountered after an up-trend is a reversal signal, warning of "rainy days" ahead.

Piercing Line

piercing line candlesticks

The Piercing Line is the opposite of the Dark Cloud pattern and is a reversal signal if it appears after a down-trend.

Hanging Man

hanging man candlestick

More controversial is the Hanging Man formation. A Hammer candlestick is a bullish signal in a down-trend but is called a Hanging Man when it occurs in an up-trend and is traditionally considered a bearish (reversal) signal. Thomas Bulkowski (Encyclopedia of Chart Patterns) tested the pattern extensively and concludes on his website that the Hanging Man pattern resolves in bullish continuation (of the prevailing trend) 59% of the time. It is therefore advisable to treat the Hanging Man as a consolidation pattern, signaling indecision, and only take moves from subsequent breakouts, below the recent low or high.

Candlestick Star Formations

Star patterns highlight indecision. A long body followed by a much shorter candlestick with a short body indicates the market has lost direction. The bodies must not overlap, though their shadows may.

Reversal is confirmed if a subsequent candle closes in the bottom half of the initial, long candlestick body.

Morning Star

morning star candlesticks

The Morning Star pattern signals a bullish reversal after a down-trend. The first candlestick has a long black body. The second candlestick gaps down from the first (the bodies display a gap, but the shadows may still overlap) and is more bullish if hollow. The next candlestick has a long white body which closes in the top half of the body of the first candlestick.

Evening Star

evening star candlesticks

The Evening Star pattern is opposite to Morning Star and is a reversal signal at the end of an up-trend. The pattern is more bearish if the second candlestick is filled rather than hollow.

Doji Star

doji star candlestick

A Doji Star is weaker than the Morning or Evening Star: the doji represents indecision. The doji star requires confirmation from the next candlestick closing in the bottom half of the body of the first candlestick.

Shooting Star

shooting star candlestick

With a Shooting Star, the body on the second candlestick must be near the low — at the bottom end of the trading range — and the upper shadow must be taller. This is also a weaker reversal signal than the Morning or Evening Star.
The pattern requires confirmation from the next candlestick closing below half-way on the body of the first.

Candlestick Continuation Signals

Many candlestick clusters will resolve as continuation signals after initially signaling indecision. But there are a few patterns that suggest continuation right from the outset.

Rising Three Methods

rising 3 methods candlestick pattern

The Rising Method consists of two strong white lines bracketing 3 or 4 small declining black candlesticks. The final white line forms a new closing high. The pattern is definitely bullish.

Falling Three Methods

falling 3 methods candlestick pattern

The bearish Falling Method consists of two long black lines bracketing 3 or 4 small ascending white candlesticks, the second black line forming a new closing low.


While candlesticks may offer useful pointers as to short-term direction, trading on the strength of candlestick signals alone is not advisable. To improve trading accuracy candlesticks should be combined with volatility, volume, support/resistance and trendlines. See: How to Trade Candlestick Chart Patterns. Jack Schwager in Technical Analysis conducted fairly extensive tests with candlesticks over a number of markets with disappointing results.


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