Point-and-Figure (P&F) Charts: How They Work and Real-Life Examples


Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts are a unique tool in technical analysis, depicting price movements without regard to time. This article explores P&F charts in detail, their calculation, interpretation, notable analysts, and limitations. Discover how this charting method can help traders make informed decisions.

Understanding point-and-figure (P&F) charts

Point-and-figure (P&F) charts are a specialized form of financial charting that differ significantly from traditional candlestick or bar charts. Instead of plotting price data against time, P&F charts focus solely on price movements. This unique approach offers several advantages for technical analysts.

How P&F charts work

P&F charts use columns of stacked X’s and O’s to represent price changes. Each X signifies a price increase, while each O represents a price decrease. The key concept is the “box size,” which determines the amount of price movement required to add a new X or O to the chart. A reversal amount, typically three times the box size, is also set to indicate a change in trend.

Benefits of P&F charts

One of the primary benefits of P&F charts is their ability to filter out minor price fluctuations. This makes support and resistance levels, as well as breakout patterns, more distinct and reliable. Traders often use P&F charts in conjunction with traditional charts to validate signals and avoid false breakouts.

P&F charts are especially useful for identifying significant trend changes. A column of X’s or O’s continues as long as the price remains in the same direction and doesn’t breach the reversal amount. When a reversal occurs, a new column begins, providing a clear signal of trend shifts.

Calculating point-and-figure (P&F) charts

P&F charts require a few essential variables for calculation:

1. Box size

The box size is a critical parameter that determines how much price movement is needed to add an X or O. Traders can set the box size as a fixed dollar amount, a percentage of the current price, or based on average true range (ATR) for volatility-adjusted values.

2. Reversal amount

The reversal amount, typically three times the box size, signals a change in trend. Traders can customize this value to their preferences, such as using one times the box size or other multiples.

3. Price data

Traders can choose to use high and low prices for the asset or just closing prices. Using high and low prices generates more X’s and O’s, while closing prices result in fewer.

Interpreting P&F charts

P&F charts provide unique trade and trend signals compared to traditional charts. The distinct advantage lies in the box size, which determines when X’s or O’s are added. For instance, if the box size is $3, and the last X was at $15, a new X is added when the price rises to $18.

A column of X’s or O’s continues until the price reaches the reversal amount, at which point a new column begins. This behavior makes it easy to spot trend reversals and pullbacks.

Traders still apply conventional technical analysis techniques with P&F charts, including support and resistance levels, as well as breakout signals. Columns themselves can represent significant trends, and a change from X to O or vice versa can indicate a substantial trend reversal.

Notable P&F analysts

Several prominent technical analysts have contributed to the popularity of P&F charts:

1. Charles Dow

The founder of The Wall Street Journal, Charles Dow, is credited with developing point-and-figure charting as a tool for assessing imbalances between supply and demand.

2. Tom Dorsey

Tom Dorsey, a leading expert in point-and-figure charting, founded Dorsey, Wright & Associates in 1987. He authored several books on the subject, including “Point & Figure Charting: The Essential Application for Forecasting and Tracking Market Prices.” Nasdaq acquired Dorsey, Wright & Associates in 2015, further emphasizing the importance of P&F charts in technical analysis.

Dorsey integrated P&F charts with traditional technical indicators such as moving averages, relative strength, and advance/decline lines, enhancing their utility.

Comparison with Renko charts

While P&F and Renko charts share similarities, they have distinct differences:

1. Box size

Both chart types rely on box sizes, but Renko charts create bricks that move at a 45-degree angle to the prior brick when the price moves by the box size. P&F charts use stacked columns of X’s and O’s.

2. Appearance

P&F charts display side-by-side columns of X’s and O’s, while Renko charts form a series of bricks spread out over time at 45-degree angles.

Limitations of using P&F charts

While P&F charts offer advantages, they have limitations:

1. Delayed signals

P&F charts may be slow to signal price changes since the price must move the box amount before indicating a breakout. Some traders may find this delay less effective.

2. False breakouts

False breakouts can still occur, where a perceived breakout is later reversed. Vigilance is required to monitor real-time price movements.

3. Risk management

Due to the large reversal amount, traders using P&F charts may not notice reversals until significant profits are eroded or losses incurred. Monitoring asset prices alongside P&F charts is advisable for effective risk management.

Applications of P&F charts

Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts find applications in various aspects of technical analysis:

1. Identifying trends

P&F charts excel at identifying trends in financial markets. For example, consider a stock trading at $50 with a box size of $2. Each X represents a $2 price increase. If the stock reaches $56, an X is added to the chart. As long as the price keeps rising without retracing $6 (3 times the box size), the column of X’s continues. This visually clear trend representation helps traders spot opportunities.

2. Confirmation of signals

Traders often use P&F charts to validate signals from other chart types. For instance, if a candlestick chart indicates a potential breakout, consulting a P&F chart can confirm the breakout’s strength. This confirmation can help traders avoid entering positions based on false signals.

Real-life example

Let’s look at a real-life example of how a trader might use P&F charts:

Imagine you’re considering a long-term investment in Company XYZ. You consult its P&F chart, which uses a box size of $5. You notice a series of rising X’s, indicating a strong upward trend. The chart also shows a clear resistance level at $75, where the stock has previously reversed its trend. With this information, you might decide to buy Company XYZ if it breaks above $75, confident in the P&F chart’s support for your decision.

Limitations and risk management strategies

While P&F charts offer valuable insights, it’s crucial to understand their limitations and implement risk management strategies:

1. Large reversal amounts

P&F charts often have large reversal amounts, which means that trends can reverse significantly before the chart reflects the change. To mitigate this, traders should consider using smaller box sizes and reversal amounts, although this may generate more frequent signals.

2. Combining with other charts

Experienced traders often combine P&F charts with traditional candlestick or bar charts to gain a more comprehensive view of market conditions. This combination can help minimize the drawbacks of each chart type while maximizing their advantages.


Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts offer a unique perspective on price movements, filtering out noise and providing clear signals for traders. While they have advantages, such as precise support and resistance levels, traders must be aware of their limitations, including delayed signals and the risk of false breakouts. By combining P&F charts with other technical analysis tools, traders can make more informed decisions in the dynamic world of financial markets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts, and how do they differ from traditional charts?

Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts are a unique form of financial charting that focus solely on price movements, disregarding time. Unlike traditional candlestick or bar charts, P&F charts represent price changes using columns of X’s and O’s. X’s denote price increases, while O’s signify price decreases.

How are P&F charts calculated, and what are the key parameters?

Calculating P&F charts involves setting essential parameters, including the box size and reversal amount. The box size determines the price movement required for the addition of an X or O, while the reversal amount signals a change in trend. Traders can customize these parameters based on their preferences and the asset’s characteristics.

What advantages do P&F charts offer over traditional charts?

P&F charts provide several advantages, such as filtering out minor price fluctuations, making support and resistance levels clearer, and enhancing the identification of trend changes. These charts can complement traditional charts by offering distinct trade and trend signals.

Who are notable analysts associated with Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts?

Two notable analysts in the realm of P&F charts are Charles Dow, the founder of The Wall Street Journal, and Tom Dorsey, who founded Dorsey, Wright & Associates. Charles Dow is credited with developing P&F charting to assess supply and demand imbalances, while Tom Dorsey has significantly contributed to the popularity of P&F charts with his expertise.

How do Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts compare to Renko charts?

P&F charts and Renko charts share similarities, such as using box sizes. However, they differ in appearance and behavior. P&F charts display stacked columns of X’s and O’s, while Renko charts use bricks that move at 45-degree angles. Understanding these distinctions can help traders choose the most suitable chart for their analysis.

What are the limitations of using Point-and-Figure (P&F) charts, and how can traders mitigate them?

P&F charts have limitations, including delayed signals and the potential for false breakouts. To mitigate these issues, traders can consider using smaller box sizes and reversal amounts. Additionally, combining P&F charts with other chart types can provide a more comprehensive view of market conditions and enhance risk management.

Key takeaways

  • P&F charts focus solely on price movements, filtering out time-based noise.
  • Box size and reversal amount are crucial parameters for P&F chart calculation.
  • Notable P&F analysts include Charles Dow and Tom Dorsey.
  • P&F charts differ from Renko charts in appearance and behavior.
  • Limitations of P&F charts include delayed signals and the potential for false breakouts.
View article sources


  1. (PDF) Point and Figure Charting – Bill Sharman
  2. How Do I Choose Which Type of Graph to Use? – National Center for Education Statistics
  3. Introduction to Point & Figure Charts – ChartSchool