A Beginner’s Guide to Classical Chart Patterns

What are classical chart patterns?

There are many different ways to analyze the financial markets using technical analysis (TA). Some traders will use indicators and oscillators, while others will base their analysis only on price action.
Candlestick charts present a historical overview of prices over time. The idea is that by studying the historical price action of an asset, recurring patterns may emerge. Candlestick patterns can tell a useful story about the charted asset, and many traders will try to take advantage of that in stock, forex, and cryptocurrency markets.
Some of the most common examples of these patterns are collectively referred to as classical chart patterns. These are some of the most well-known patterns out there, and many traders see them as reliable trading indicators. Why is that? Isn’t trading and investing about finding an edge in something that others have overlooked? Yes, but it’s also about crowd psychology. As technical patterns aren’t bound by any scientific principle or physical law, their effectiveness highly depends on the number of market participants paying attention to them.


A flag is an area of consolidation that’s against the direction of the longer-term trend and happens after a sharp price move. It looks like a flag on a flagpole, where the pole is the impulse move, and the flag is the area of consolidation.

Flags may be used to identify the potential continuation of the trend. The volume accompanying the pattern is also important. Ideally, the impulse move should happen on high volume, while the consolidation phase should have lower, decreasing volume.

Bull flag


The bull flag happens in an uptrend, follows a sharp move up, and it’s typically followed by continuation further to the upside.

Bear flag


The bear flag happens in a downtrend, follows a sharp move down, and it’s typically followed by continuation further to the downside.




A triangle is a chart pattern that’s characterized by a converging price range that’s typically followed by the continuation of the trend. The triangle itself shows a pause in the underlying trend but may indicate a reversal or a continuation.

Ascending triangle

The ascending triangle forms when there’s a horizontal resistance area and a rising trend line drawn across a series of higher lows. Essentially, each time the price bounces off the horizontal resistance, the buyers step in at higher prices, creating higher lows. As tension is building at the resistance area, if the price eventually breaks through it, it tends to be followed by a quick spike up with high volume. As such, the ascending triangle is a bullish pattern.

Descending triangle


The descending triangle is the inverse of the ascending triangle. It forms when there’s a horizontal support area and a falling trend line drawn across a series of lower highs. In the same way as the ascending triangle, each time price bounces off the horizontal support, sellers step in at lower prices, creating lower highs. Typically, if the price breaks through the horizontal support area, it’s followed by a quick spike down with high volume. This makes it a bearish pattern.

Symmetrical triangle

The symmetrical triangle is drawn by a falling upper trend line and a rising lower trend line, both happening at roughly an equal slope. The symmetrical triangle is neither a bullish nor a bearish pattern, as its interpretation heavily depends on the context (namely, the underlying trend). On its own, it’s considered to be a neutral pattern, simply representing a period of consolidation.


A wedge is drawn by converging trend lines, indicating tightening price action. The trend lines, in this case, show that the highs and lows are either rising or falling at a different rate.
It might mean that a reversal is impending, as the underlying trend is getting weaker. A wedge pattern may be accompanied by decreasing volume, also indicating that the trend might be losing momentum.

Rising wedge

The rising wedge is a bearish reversal pattern. It suggests that as the price tightens up, the uptrend is getting weaker and weaker, and may finally break through the lower trend line.

Falling wedge


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Double top and double bottom

Double tops and double bottoms are patterns that occur when the market moves in either an “M” or a “W” shape. It’s worth noting that these patterns may be valid even if the relevant price points aren’t exactly the same but close to each other.

Typically, the two low or high points should be accompanied by higher volume than the rest of the pattern.

Double top


The double top is a bearish reversal pattern where the price reaches a high two times and it’s unable to break higher on the second attempt. At the same time, the pullback between the two tops should be moderate. The pattern is confirmed once the price breaches the low of the pullback between the two tops.

Double bottom


Head and shoulders

Inverse head and shoulders

Closing thoughts

Classical chart patterns are among the most well-known TA patterns. However, as with any market analysis method, they shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. What works well in a particular market environment might not work in another. So it’s always good practice to look for confirmation, meanwhile exercising proper risk management.
If you’d like to read more on candlestick patterns, be sure to check 12 Popular Candlestick Patterns Used in Technical Analysis.

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