How do I read an options chain?

Like stocks, options have unique ticker symbols that help inves­tors identify all of their important information in a few moments. The standard option symbol looks like this:

 

optionticker

 

As you can see, everything you need to know is right there — the underlying stock, the expiration date, the type of option and the strike price. I include that symbol for every recommendation.

But not all brokers use the standardized symbol, so don’t worry if your broker’s website doesn’t recognize the symbol I give. In this case, look for a button on your broker’s webpage to trade options, enter the stock symbol and then look for an “option chain” or a way to manually enter the expiration and the strike price. When in doubt, call your broker to figure out where to find the option you want to sell.

Zach has put together a great options cheat sheet that you can read here.


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