The True Range Indicator

The True Range (TR) is a technical indicator used in financial markets to measure the volatility of an asset's price movement.



3/19/20244 min read

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Definition of True Range (TR)

The True Range (TR) is a technical indicator used in financial markets to measure the volatility of an asset's price movement. It provides traders with an understanding of the potential price range for an asset during a given period.

Biography of the Developer

The True Range indicator was developed by Welles Wilder, a renowned technical analyst and author of several influential books on technical analysis, including "New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems." Wilder was born in 1930 and began his career as a mechanical engineer. He later became interested in the stock market and dedicated his life to studying and developing technical analysis tools.

Formula for Calculating True Range

The True Range is calculated using the following formula:

TR = Max(High - Low, Abs(High - Previous Close), Abs(Low - Previous Close))


  • High represents the highest price of the current period

  • Low represents the lowest price of the current period

  • Previous Close represents the closing price of the previous period

  • Abs() represents the absolute value function

  • Max() represents the maximum value function

How to Use True Range

The True Range indicator can be used in various ways by traders to make informed decisions. Here are a few common applications:

1. Volatility Measurement

True Range is primarily used to measure the volatility of an asset. Traders can compare the True Range values over different periods to identify periods of high or low volatility. High volatility may indicate potential trading opportunities, while low volatility may suggest a lack of market interest.

2. Stop Loss Placement

Traders often use the True Range to determine appropriate stop loss levels for their trades. By setting stop loss orders based on the True Range, traders can account for the natural price fluctuations of an asset and avoid premature stop-outs.

3. Breakout Confirmation

When a security breaks out of a trading range, the True Range can help confirm the validity of the breakout. Traders may look for an expansion in the True Range as a signal that the breakout is genuine and likely to continue.

Signals Provided by True Range

The True Range indicator does not provide specific buy or sell signals on its own. However, it can be used in conjunction with other indicators to generate trading signals. Here are a few examples:

1. Average True Range (ATR)

The Average True Range (ATR) is a popular indicator derived from the True Range. It smoothes out the True Range values over a specified period to provide a more stable measure of volatility. Traders often use the ATR to set stop loss levels, determine position sizes, or identify potential trend reversals.

2. Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are another commonly used indicator that incorporates the True Range. Bollinger Bands consist of a middle band (usually a moving average) and two outer bands that represent a certain number of standard deviations away from the middle band. The width of the bands is typically based on the True Range, which expands during periods of high volatility and contracts during periods of low volatility.

3. Moving Average Envelopes

Moving Average Envelopes are similar to Bollinger Bands but use a fixed percentage or value above and below a moving average to create the bands. The True Range can be used to adjust the width of the envelopes based on market volatility, helping traders identify potential overbought or oversold conditions.

Combining True Range with Other Indicators

Traders often combine the True Range indicator with other technical indicators to enhance their trading strategies. Here are a few examples of how the True Range can be used in conjunction with other indicators:

1. Moving Averages

By combining the True Range with moving averages, traders can identify potential trend reversals or confirm the strength of an existing trend. For example, a crossover of the True Range with a moving average may signal a change in market volatility.

2. Oscillators

Oscillators, such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) or Stochastic Oscillator, can be used alongside the True Range to identify overbought or oversold conditions. Traders may look for divergences between the oscillator and the True Range to anticipate potential trend reversals.

3. Fibonacci Retracement Levels

The True Range can help traders determine the appropriate Fibonacci retracement levels to use when analyzing price pullbacks. By considering the True Range in conjunction with Fibonacci levels, traders can identify potential support or resistance areas.

Advice for Algorithmic Traders

For algorithmic traders, incorporating the True Range indicator into their trading strategies can provide valuable insights into market volatility and potential trading opportunities. Here are a few tips for algorithmic traders:

1. Optimize Parameters

When using the True Range in an algorithmic trading system, it is essential to optimize the parameters based on historical data. This can help identify the most effective settings for the True Range indicator within the specific trading strategy.

2. Combine with Other Indicators

Algorithmic traders can enhance their strategies by combining the True Range with other indicators. By incorporating multiple indicators, traders can create more robust trading algorithms that consider various market factors.

3. Backtest and Validate

Before deploying an algorithmic trading strategy that includes the True Range indicator, it is crucial to backtest the strategy using historical data. This process helps validate the effectiveness of the strategy and identify any potential issues or areas for improvement.

4. Monitor and Adjust

Algorithmic trading strategies should be monitored regularly to ensure they continue to perform as expected. Traders should be prepared to make adjustments to their strategies, including the use of the True Range indicator, based on changing market conditions.

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