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6 Tips On How To Identify The Trend On Charts

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By in Forex Trading Strategies By Nial Fuller Posted on December 4th, 2017 | 48 Comments

Through my 15+ years experience in trading, I have discovered that when it comes to identifying the trend of a market, there is no magical tool, no indicator and no set of rules that always work. As traders, despite our best efforts to analyze the charts and carefully determine a bias on the charts and trade in-line with the trend of the market, ultimately the direction of the market can quickly change at any time. If things don’t go to plan, we should use the benefit of hindsight analysis to dissect the chart and figure out what we initially missed and what went wrong. Just remember that this isn’t an exact science, and sometimes, despite our best efforts to make sense of the charts, the market will just move in the opposite direction. Don’t beat yourself up.

To be clear, trend analysis is only one part of the overall trading strategy I employ to enter and exit trades. It is never a good idea to enter a trade based on one factor alone, which is why I look for as much evidence as possible to confirm a trade. In my own trading plan, I employ a concept known as T L S confluence, an analysis technique which brings together; trend analysis, level analysis, and signal analysis.

When reading today’s lesson, keep in mind, I am not talking about “trading the trend” here, I am simply providing a set of filters and observations to identify the most obvious direction the market is likely to head. Also, the market may look like it’s trending in one direction, when in fact it’s actually trending in the other direction. This is because many markets experience short-term retracements, which tend to deceive traders. For this reason, always zoom out and look at the bigger picture on the charts and then zoom in and drill down from there.

We will start with the simpler techniques and work our way to the more advanced techniques.

1. Visual observation is key.

The first thing to understand about trend identification is that it is not a perfect science. I try to keep it as simple as possible and I start off by just visually observing a bare price action chart, with no indicators.

If you ask different traders, you will hear different versions of what the current trend of a market is. Some will give you the short-term trend, some the long-term and some the mid-term. However, the most important trend to identify is the most obvious current dominant daily chart trend. We can identify that using both short-term and long-term analysis, which begins by simply observing the charts.

I like to ask myself, what is the chart looking like over the last year or two, 6 months and 3 months? That shows me the long-term, mid-term and short-term views, respectively. Doing this gives me a very clear idea of the overall chart direction moving from left to right. If all else fails, zoom out on a daily or weekly chart and take a step back and just ask yourself, “Is this chart falling or rising?”. Don’t over complicate it!


By taking a look at the general direction of the price action in a market over the last 3 month to 1 year, we can easily see whether it’s generally trending up, down or even sideways.

2. Identify the most obvious swing highs and lows.

As markets trend, they leave behind swing points on a chart. By paying attention to these swing points we can quickly see which way a market is trending.

In the chart below, notice we have a clear uptrend in place in the S&P500, something we have been discussing for months now in our recent S&P500 market commentaries. Notice the highlighted areas, these are swing lows within the uptrend and if you just focus on those highlighted areas you will see they form ‘steps’, stepping higher as the market moves in the direction of the trend…

Note, in a down-trending market you’d be more focused on swing highs and seeing if they are creating a stepping pattern to the downside.

3. Higher Highs, Higher Lows, Lower Highs and Lower Lows

Once you have drawn in the obvious swing points on the chart, you can then determine if the market is making HH and HL or LH and LL: HHHL – Higher Highs and Higher Lows, LHLL – Lower Highs and Lower Lows.

Generally, in an uptrend you will see a fairly obvious pattern of HH and HL from the market’s swing points, and in a downtrend you will see a fairly obvious pattern of LH and LL from the market’s swing points. We can see an uptrend was in place in the chart below, as you can see from the clear pattern of higher highs and higher lows…

4. Is the market appearing to ‘bounce from value’?

Check the behavior of the price action after retraces and check it as it approaches the long-term moving averages such as 21 day ema (exponential moving average) or a key horizontal resistance level. Does the price action repel down as in a downtrend or bounce up as in uptrend? This kind of price behavior is a good clue to confirm the underlying bias / trend of the market.


In the chart above, we can see that all retraces higher to both horizontal resistance levels and the 21 day EMA were met with selling pressure as the dominant downtrend remained intact.

Put a 200 and 50 day ema on your chart and check out the long-term slope of these ema’s. This is a good quick way to identify the overall dominant trend of a market. You should look at how prices are reacting near the moving averages (value zone), if the price is respecting those EMA levels and repelling/bouncing away from them on several occasions, you have good evidence the market is trending (a concept I call a ‘perfect trend’ and expand on in more more detail in my price action trading courses). The chart below is a great example for theory purposes, just don’t expect to see this every day.


Notice in the chart above, the 50 and 200 period EMA’s give us a good quick-view of the dominant daily chart trend direction.

5. Are there price action signals forming?

If you see price action signals that are producing substantial movement in-line with the trend, this is another confirming factor for your directional bias on a market. Also, remember that repetitive failed price action signals suggest the market is going the other way (and possibly changing trend).


In the chart above, notice how the bullish pin bar at support really kicked off the uptrend which was again ‘confirmed’ by the failure of the bearish pin bars.

6. Change in trend direction

If a market is trending lower, we want to pay close attention to the recent swing highs, and in an uptrend we will focus on the recent swing lows. We do this because it not only shows us the overall trend, but it also shows us via the price action if the trend is still intact or not.

For instance, if you have a series of Higher Highs and Higher Lows as in an uptrend, when you see price break down past the previous swing low, it’s a strong indication that the uptrend might be ending. Conversely, in a downtrend we see Lower Highs and Lower Lows, and when price breaks above the previous lower high, it’s a strong indication that the downtrend might be ending.



Once you are confident you have identified the trend / directional bias of a market, you then look for a signal or area / level of the chart to enter. We call that confluence and it’s a concept that would require another lesson to explain, check out a lesson on trading with confluence here.

Finding the market bias or trend is tricky, especially for beginning traders, and most traders will find this to be a sticking point in their trading development. It’s OK to understand various entry triggers and setups, but if you’re trading against the dominant market bias, your probabilities of making money decrease dramatically. There is always a bias, and as beginner traders especially, you would be well served to stick with it.

In my professional trading courses, I expand in greater detail on how we identify and trade various forms of trends using price action signals as confirmation.


Any questions or feedback? Contact me here.

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About Nial Fuller

is a Professional Trader, Investor & Author who is considered ‘The Authority’ on Price Action Trading. His blog is read by over 200,000+ followers and he has taught 25,000+ students since 2008. In 2016, Nial won the Million Dollar Trader Competition. Checkout Nial's Professional Trading Course here.
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  1. Nwiwu Austin October 28, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I thank you so much for such a wonderful idea on how to identify the directions in the trending market.

  2. El Cid July 19, 2020 at 1:51 am

    Good set up. Death cross on the side and 55 end of corrective move and powerful light at the zone.perfect set up for the metal.

  3. Aina Adeshina June 8, 2020 at 5:35 am

    If your article alone could give so much insight, I’m wondering how your course would be!
    I’m coming to register!

  4. AJ Abro March 15, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Thanks Nial,

    You’re wisdom is priceless.

    I am always learning something from your articles each and every-time I read one.

    You’re a champion.

    Thank you.

  5. shlok November 28, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Well the most toughest part to identify the change of trend .. Whenever I think Market is changing its trend I came to realise later on that is just another counter trend and counter trend follows the swing high and low rules . I want to know when this counter trend becomes the real trend I mean after how many pullbacks against the trend can tell that that trend is changing 2 pullbacks 3 pullbacks or 4 pullbacks .

  6. MUNGE GATHURI October 14, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks a lot for the insight on identifying the trend because trading without the knowledge on the direction of a trend will lead to wishing thinking on open trades because the market will always be against your positions.

  7. Mr Rock May 14, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Oh wow, I love this clear lecture because it added to my understanding regarding trend identification. Personally, I use 150 and 50 for to determine long-term trend and 21 in addition, and this has really been of great help for me in my trading career. Every successful price action trader must first know how to identify trend clearly before placing a trade.

    Thanks Nial for this.

    • Ramli October 8, 2019 at 10:36 am

      It’s a great sharing for all traders ;)

  8. usama khan March 22, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    You are great . I really feel improvement in my trading after deep analyses of your course.

  9. Euphemia Nwachukwu January 19, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Thanks Nial once again for the insight .

    Please I want more clearity on how to mark my levels on the chart ie Horizontal levels on daily time frame.
    I am still a little bit confused on this , Is it from the current swing high or swing low, or from the level where price retraced?

    Your kind explanations will be highly appreciated.


    Euphemia Nwachukwu.

  10. Euphemia Nwachukwu January 18, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks Nial, I so much appreciate this post. It has given me more clearer picture on how to identify
    trend and finding levels of support and resistance.
    May God bless and increase your knowledge in Jesus Name Amen.


  11. Eric November 28, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    I truly needed this help.

  12. fawaz bamakrait October 17, 2018 at 12:53 am

    Nial .

    i have been to so many different schools in trading forex ,but not like what i am learing from just from the articles only ,thanks my friends

  13. Ravinath Mishra October 6, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    very interesting explanation…

  14. Ralph Spangenberg June 30, 2018 at 5:29 am

    Nail Fuller:

    This is the most detailed and informative explanation of Price Action and how to identify the trend, prove reaction to major Support and Resistance lines as well as the correlation with 50 and 200 EMA’s respectively.

    Thank you,

  15. Thabo Kotelo June 29, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    thanks Nial this information is too insighful

  16. Lai Wengkum April 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks Nial, I start following your Lessons

  17. Krishnamoorthy March 31, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Thank you very much for an excellent lesson

  18. Falola Jacob Olalekan March 1, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    good lesson sir but i need more help

  19. Nomzamo February 12, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Thank you Nial can’t believe you giving us so much information for free you are a blessing!

  20. Emeka Egwim January 24, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    Interesting read Nial, although it is easier said than practiced. Yet we cannot take away the established truth expounded there in, and the possibility of excelling if we give in to learning and understanding. I am always wowed by the simple yet in dept content in your lectures (that is what i prefer to call your write ups). Kudos to you boss.

  21. Hendra Gimby December 28, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Very useful article, good explanation about basic things. Thanks for sharing

  22. SF Sharif Ahmed December 10, 2017 at 6:24 am

    I think you are the best of all

  23. KRISTOFA OKENTA December 10, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Thanks to you Nial.

  24. John Promise December 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Nial, thanks. You are good.

  25. Ibrahim Busu December 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks very much .. a good lesson

  26. Godspower Bernard December 6, 2017 at 5:15 am

    your materials are indeed helpful. thanks

  27. GANDUS December 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    lovably indeed. God bless you for giving away such precious articles like these for free. too good to know. thanks Nail.

  28. William D'Arbe December 6, 2017 at 6:38 am

    Thank you Niall, makes great sense .. and quite easy to implement. Great teaching

  29. Oliver December 6, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Nial your the best….thanks .

  30. Christian Walter December 5, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you, Nial and team.

  31. Sammy Ehis December 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

    i am really learning a lot, tough still on demo all your applications are working for mt=y trade entries

  32. Geoffrey Irwin December 5, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Always valuable, helps me keep on track

  33. Mylo December 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    I can already imagine myself like a forex traider. Such a cool post.

  34. Mamun December 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    This is a very good article…..

  35. dmu December 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    this the holy grail

  36. Michael Tilghman December 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Great lesson Nial
    It’s always good to go back to basics and there is always something new you can learn in this business.

  37. José Everton December 4, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    being able to share your knowledge is a Nial honor.

  38. Mike Coe December 5, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Top lesson, Nial! A great reminder to check on the old TLS! Many thanks as always!

  39. Hypolite Uchechukwu Olua December 4, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    I Started making consistent monthly profit after I met Nail Fuller, He is such a great guy.

  40. Jennifer Monks December 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Enjoy all your articles Nial… great value and info.. luv it !!

  41. Stephen Clarke December 4, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Great clarity Nial. I know you trade daily time frames but do you think the same principles apply as accurately to one hour charts? (I do pretty well on one hour charts but I COULD DO BETTER.)

  42. Ibrahim Aamir Shafiq Zargar December 4, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    .thanks Nial..great lesson Sir…

  43. Aamir Shafiq Zargar December 5, 2017 at 2:14 am

    .thanks Nail..heart lesson…

  44. Muchangi Mugo December 4, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you Sir for the insight

  45. Galen Tarrence December 5, 2017 at 1:19 am

    Thanks Nial indeed a good lesson

  46. Galen Tarrence December 4, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks Nial indeed a good lesson

  47. John French December 4, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Great lesson Nial! Thank you!


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