Level II Quotes on thinkorswim

If you use thinkorswim at TD Ameritrade to buy and sell securities, you should be aware of the many tools available to you to help make your investment journey a little easier and more accurate. One such feature is Level II data. Here’s how to use this valuable feature on the platform.

Finding Level II on thinkorswim

After launching thinkorswim from the desktop, you’ll need to click on the ‘+’ sign in the lower left corner of the platform. Doing so will produce several gadgets to choose from, such as Tetris (yes, they really have this video game inside of thinkorswim), live streaming of CNBC, and Level II quotes. Because the Level II window isn’t displayed in the default thinkorswim layout, you’ll need to remember to go down to this area and manually launch it.

The good news is that any layout that you build can be saved and quickly loaded at a later time. You can also go into the settings of the software (located in the gear icon in the upper-right corner) and choose any saved layout as the default layout. This way, when you log into thinkorswim, your Level II window will be automatically displayed (along with Tetris or any other available gadgets if you want them).

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Using the Level II Box

Once you have the Level II window added to the trading screen, the first thing you’ll want to do is add a ticker symbol to get some numbers.

The software will display the most recent trade price next to the company’s name. In very small type, the day’s change (in dollar and percent terms) will also be shown. Underneath the ticker field is the day’s tightest bid-ask spread. This, of course, is important to pay attention to before making a trading decision.

Below all this information sits the actual Level II numbers. These include not only bid and ask prices, but the sizes of them in round lots. For example, a bid size of 6 represents 600 shares. Also displayed are the actual exchanges where the bids and asks are arriving.

On thinkorswim, prices in a Level II window are color-coded in shades of blue. The difference in colors is very slight, which makes the window more difficult to use than software programs that employ multiple colors. Sterling Trader Pro, for example, uses several colors.

Trading from the Level II Window

During our testing, the one feature we really liked was the ability to trade straight from the Level II window. Right-clicking on a specific row (which contains a specific price, exchange, and lot size) in a bid or ask column generates a drop-down menu with several selections, two of which are buy and sell.

Selecting buy or sell will create an order ticket at the bottom of the screen. The ticket will be populated with a limit price based on the row you clicked on. Although there are several exchanges listed in the Level II window, the only routing options we received in the order ticket were ARCA and Nasdaq.

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