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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Bulkowski's Volume Shapes

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As of 10/20/2017
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Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

Volume Shapes: Summary

Volume has in five distinct shapes but two types appear most often during the formation of chart patterns: U and dome. The other shapes, up, down, and flat, I lump together as a random shape because they are rare. Think of the random volume shape as not U and not dome.

Usually, the volume shape is obvious except in long chart patterns, such as rounding turns, which may have several volume shapes. Use the most recent volume shape (the volume shape closest to the breakout) as the determining pattern. At the end of this page is a table of patterns that don't have a volume preference.

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My book, Encyclopedia of Chart Patterns Second EditionEncyclopedia of Chart Patterns 2nd Edition book. pictured on the left, takes an in-depth look at 63 chart and event patterns, including performance statistics.

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U-shaped volume
Dome shaped volume
Random shaped volume
No Performance Difference

Volume Shapes: U-shaped volume

U-shaped volume chart pattern

Volume is higher at the ends of the chart pattern than in the middle. Usually, the volume peaks correspond to price turning points in the chart pattern. U-shaped volume has the most chart patterns in its list – 27. The following table shows which chart patterns do better post breakout with U-shaped volume.

Chart Patterns in a bull market
Big W, up and down breakouts
Broadening formation, right-angled and ascending, down breakouts
Broadening formation, right-angled and descending, up breakouts
Broadening tops, down breakouts
Broadening wedge, ascending, up breakouts
Broadening wedge, descending, down breakouts
Bump-and-run reversal bottoms
Cup with handle
Diamond tops, down breakouts (tie with dome-shape)
Double bottoms, Eve & Eve
Double tops, Adam & Eve
Double tops, Eve & Eve (tied with random)
Flags, down breakouts
Head-and-shoulders bottoms
Head-and-shoulders bottoms, complex (tied with random)
Head-and-shoulders tops
Head-and-shoulders tops, complex
Island reversals, up breakouts
Pennants, up or down breakouts
Rounding tops, up or down breakouts
Scallops, ascending, up breakouts
Three falling peaks
Three rising valleys
Triangles, ascending, down breakouts.
Triangles, descending, up breakouts.
Triangles, symmetrical, up breakouts (tied with dome shape)
Triple tops
Wedges, rising, up breakouts
Top of page   More

Volume Shapes: Dome shaped volume

Dome-shaped volume chart pattern

Dome shaped volume is the inverted version of the U-shape. Volume is higher in the middle of the chart pattern than at the ends. Dome shaped volume has 17 patterns in its list, the smallest of the three shapes. The following table shows which chart patterns do better with dome-shaped volume.

Chart Patterns in a bull market
Broadening formation, right-angled and ascending, up breakouts
Broadening tops, up breakouts
Diamond bottoms, up breakouts
Diamond tops, down breakouts(tie with U-shape)
Double bottoms, Adam &Adam
Double bottoms, Adam &Eve
Double bottoms, Eve &Adam
Double tops, Eve & Adam
Islands, long, up or down breakouts
Rectangle tops, down breakouts
Scallops, ascending, down breakouts
Scallops, descending, up breakouts
Triangles, descending, down breakouts (tied with random shape)
Triangles, symmetrical, up breakouts (tied with U shape)
Triple bottoms
Wedges, falling, down breakouts (tied with random shape)
Wedges, rising, down breakouts
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Volume Shapes: Random volume shape

Random-shaped volume chart pattern

A random volume shape is one that is not domed and not U-shaped. It may be flat, inclined, declined, or just have a rugged appearance with no discernable shape. The random volume shape has 20 entries in its list, second only to the U shape. The following chart patterns perform better with a random volume shape.

Chart Patterns in a bull market
Broadening bottoms, up or down breakouts
Broadening formation, right-angled and descending, down breakouts
Broadening wedge, descending, up breakouts
Diamond bottoms, down breakouts
Diamond tops, up breakouts
Double tops, Adam & Adam
Double tops, Eve & Eve (tied with U-shape)
Flags, up breakouts
Flags, high and tight
Head-and-shoulders bottoms (tied with U-shape)
Island reversals, down breakouts
Rectangle bottoms, up or down breakouts
Rectangle tops, up breakouts
Rounding bottoms
Scallops, descending, down breakouts
Triangles, ascending, up breakouts.
Triangles, descending, down breakouts (tied with dome shape)
Triangles, symmetrical, down breakouts
Wedges, falling, up breakouts
Wedges, falling, down breakouts (tied with dome shape)
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Volume Shapes: No Performance Difference

The following chart patterns show no volume shape preference. That means performance is the same across all volume shapes.

Chart Patterns in a bull market
Broadening wedge, ascending, down breakouts
Bump-and-run reversal tops
Cup with handle, inverted
Scallops, ascending and inverted
Scallops, descending and inverted

-- Thomas Bulkowski

See Also

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. A closed mouth gathers no foot.