Day Trading Tips: How to Choose the Best Interval for Charts

Day trading tips: Best time interval for your charts
What’s the best time interval for your day trading charts?

Day Trading Tips: Best Time Interval for Your Charts

The single most common of the day trading tips requested of me is this:

“What is the best¬†time interval I should be using on my trading charts?”

This question comes from people trading the stock market, futures, Forex and eminis alike.

The assumption is that there must be an optimal chart interval (the length of the bar on a chart) in which trades are more likely to be profitable.

There is a very small amount of truth to that assumption, but not as much as one might think.

Most things in trading are relative, and this is another one of those things (actually there’s a day trading tip within a day trading tip!).

Having said that, however, the time interval for your chart is indeed VERY important … but for reasons that do not occur to most who are day trading or swing trading.

There are indeed a couple issues that do make certain time frames objectively slightly more reliable than others. In theory these reasons make a lot of sense. However in the actual practice of swing trading and day trading, I haven’t found them to be as significant as one would expect.

More importantly, there are personal reasons that some time intervals are better than others for individual traders. These are the critical, yet less examined issues.

In the video below, I clearly share all of the reasons I’m hinting at here.

So of all the day trading tips I could give you, here’s one of the popular: How to find the best time interval for your charts.





  1. Good advice, Dr Burn,
    But a lot of people do not know what psychology is, this is a BIG word even for some professonal.
    This word is way over the head of most traders, that is why 90%plus traders loss money.

    Like what you say. Great work. Keep it up Dr Burns.

  2. Hi Colin,

    I like to use 3 for day trading. When using daily, weekly, and monthly charts for longer term trading/investing we can’t do that, so then I change the inputs of the confirmation chart.

  3. Hi Barry
    Many thanks for the very useful information. I have a question for you – I have a problem identifying a suitable longer time frame to use as part of the confirmation process. I started off using a factor of 5 as used by Alexander Elder. I reduced this to 4 but I am now experimenting with 3. Do you have a favourite multiple and/or do you have a video on this topic? I look forward to your thoughts on the matter.Kind regards


  4. Hi David,

    Thank you for your comment. I don’t have a printout of this video, but I appreciate your kind words. Sounds like you have a very interesting program.

  5. There is a real lack of discussion concerning choice of time frames in trading. You have done a masterful job of recognizing the polarities involved in such as choice. Most particularly in pointing out the individual psychology of the independent trader.
    Do you have a printout of this video? I would be willing to pay for such. I teach the psychology of trading to a specialized group of people. These are all folks who have experience with Zen, Martial Arts or Eastern philosophy such as the Tao

  6. Your description of how one’s attention wanders–the short attention span person–really hit home: “you start checking email, then you realize you’ve missed a great trade setup!” I usually have so many things to do on the computer, and I fall into this trap way too often!

  7. Very interesting stuff. One must be very patient to trade based on long term trends. Yes! Using shorter time frames you lose the opportunity to make large gains. But many short term trades can equal the gain made using the long term trade while avoiding violent upheavals like happened in 2008 and this past week due Japan’s quake. Now that weekly options are playable, one can establish relatively safe and consistent weekly income from reasonably non-greedy OTM Condor-like Credit Spreads without paying attention to all the noise generated worrying about the greeks, trends, etcetera. I had good success trading the SPY and QQQQs this way except when I got greedy.

  8. I almost always shake my head after watching or reading anything that Barry publishes concerning trading. I mean where else can you get this sought of information. Half the time you couldn’t even buy half the info Barry gives for free. Thanks Barry. Top Dog Trading has my support all the way. Cheers from Australia.

  9. Do I need to physically got involved in the trading or your PRO are deciding on my behalf.
    I am not even an amateur.
    How much is my minimum start up for the single trade.

  10. Very useful information…most people won’t answer this question about time intervals. But Barry does and gives us some very helpful comments. Thanks Barry.

  11. Hei…very good sharing of these video, it give me alot of info what time frame we re going used..I agree with Dr. BB that short term have more trading opportunity,and it is true especially for that small account.But those who made it must more time to watch the trade..keep gain between 5-10 pips per trade..10 time per day equal to 50-100pips. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I always enjoy your free videos but they make me want more since I am a newbee. I have ordered your 3 for 1 courses and hope to get this down in the fourx.

  13. Good information, as there is no hard and fast rule. As long as we have enough trades per day, not just one!

    Thank you,

  14. You certainly know your stuff.
    Attention span is a problem that I suffer from and I
    have missed some great trades cause my mind was not where it should have been. Using the shorter time frames keeps me busy and more alert. Since I started using your courses and instructions I have started to see some small profits.

    Thanks very much,
    Jon “newbie” from OZ

  15. after watching this video i may change to shorter time frames and lt chart.i often find only 1 trade per day or less which requires serious patience, whereas i could tolerate having to think more quickly as can analyse charts quite quickly,cheers for more free info Barry,i always take the time to watch them,mark anderson u.k.

  16. Thank yoy for this presentation as well as the five day mini course that taught me so much as an amateur.
    Many thanks
    Eugene from South Africa

  17. As usual, I always find useful tips in everything you share. This also has made me stop and think. I guess, you just can’t know enough whatever you are looking into as an investment. Thank you Dr. Burns.

  18. Truly taking time to know how your personality will fit the the intervals in which you like trade in.

    Dr. Burns clearly shows us how to fit our trading personality successfully into our individual execution comfort zones.
    Reflecting to the original course materials, choice of time intervals for execution relates to this trading tip quite nicely.

    There is an issue worth considering, short term trading attention spans. Proper brain energy nourishment. If we trade the big money stuff like SPY or FAZ in the 1 and 5 minute intervals with high frequency, clearly we need to food nourish the brain in order to maintain focus.Eat breakfast.

    This tip tells us the more we learn, the more questions we’ll have to learn more. Dr. Burns always puts a generous chunk of meat in the sandwich. All designed to make us think for ourselves and pull the trigger more effectively.

    Thank you very much.

  19. Another fine display of your analytical mind teaching us ‘newbies’ how to think what is, not what we want it to be.

    Thanks once again,

    Mike from Oz

  20. Very good information. Attention span is one topic that I have never thought about and your reasoning makes a lot of sense. The difference in time frame selection in regards to risk and reward were also very good points to ponder. Thank you for sharing!

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