How to Use RSI Charts: Relative Strength Index Explained

The Relative Strength Index measures any stock's strength by analyzing price movements. RSI charts average up closing day prices versus average down prices.

This article discovers the Relative Strength Index stock chart indicator, possibly the most used chart indicator in technical analysis.  But most people do not know how to use it properly.

What is the RSI Indicator

Developed by J Welles Wilder, the Relative Strength Index or Wilders RSI indicator measures any stock or market index’s strength by analyzing its price movements.  RSI measures price relative strength by using average net up closing day prices versus its average net down closing prices for the period set.

RSI enables you to evaluate if a stock is overbought or oversold.

Relative Strength Index (RSI) Explained
Relative Strength Index (RSI) Explained

How Is RSI Calculated?

RSI fluctuates between 0 and 100, RSI less than 30 indicates the stock is oversold, and above 70 suggests a stock is overbought. RSI is considered a leading indicator and can be used to predict future trend changes using positive or negative divergences compared to price.

Divergences are one of the most powerful ways to use most indicators. The fact that it is a leading indicator, as opposed to Moving Averages, which are lagging, and can thus indicate future directional changes.

The Best RSI Indicator Settings

There is no “best” setting for RSI; you actually need to tune the RSI settings for the timeframe in which you want to analyze a stock trend.

  • A Short-term RSI Setting RSI 7 (7 Periods of Price: Good for Daily or Intraday Charting)
  • A Medium-term RSI Setting 14 (14 Periods of Price: Good for a Daily Chart)
  • A Longer-term RSI Setting 20 (20 Periods of Price: Good for a Weekly Chart)

Tune the RSI setting based on the timeframe.  If you want to see the stock’s strength over a period of weeks on a daily chart, you could use RSI 20, which indicates a 1-month trend (20 market days in a month).

If you prefer to trade short-term on an hourly chart, you might use an RSI 24 to see three days of trend (24 hours or 3 market days).

Best Relative Strength Index Stock Screeners

  1. TradingView: Best Free RSI Stock Screener & Charting Platform
  2. TC2000 Best Free RSI Screening for US Stocks & ETFs
  3. MetaStock Best for RSI Backtesting & Forecasting
  4. TrendSpider Best Fully Automated AI Technical Chart Analysis

How to Read an RSI Chart

Review the chart, and read below the six key points explaining usage.

RSI 5 Point Analysis - Detailed Example Chart
RSI 5 Point Analysis – Detailed Example Chart

TC2000 RSI Chart – Get TC2000 Free

1. Set Up Your Stock Chart

The chart below clearly shows how RSI can be used to predict future trend changes.

Add Two RSI Indicators in Separate Panes

  • A Short-term RSI Setting RSI 7 (7 Periods of Price: Good for Daily or Intraday Charting)
  • A Medium-term RSI Setting 14 (14 Periods of Price: Good for a Daily Chart)

RSI in two separate windows on two different settings enables you to visualize how the shorter and medium-term settings can show a different line but draw the same conclusion. This means they confirm each other, which is a key concept in the technical analysis of stock charts.

2. Evaluate the Stock Price Direction

Trendline showing the price highs trending downward from the period November to February. During the same period, we see the price lows trending higher.

3. Observe the Price Pattern Formation

The two trendlines indicate the forming of a Price Pennant, but in which way will the stock price go, up or down? For the answer, we refer to the leading indicator RSI.

4. Evaluate the Short-term RSI Pattern

The RSI 7 (Orange Line) indicates that there is strong upward momentum in RSI; although this is not reflected in the price, it is the underlying action.

5. Does the Long-term RSI Confirm the Short-term RSI?

The RSI 14 (Purple Line) also confirms the shorter timeframe RSI setting but gives us a smoother line, which can be easier to interpret.

Finally, in mid-February, the stock price bursts through the price high trend Line, and the stock proceeds to double in price, gaining 100% in 5 weeks. What a great result, and what proof that RSI has real meaning and application.

How to Use RSI Divergence

The important lesson here is to notice when the Relative Strength Index moves in the opposite direction to the stock price.  The indicators moving against the price are called a divergence.  Spotting divergences are essential to use with the majority of stock market chart indicators.

Using RSI on a Stock Market Index

During the 2020 Corona Crash, I used RSI to help stop the serious impending stock market crash and subsequent recovery. The S&P500 chart below shows how to use RSI with other indicators to draw conclusions on market trend change.

The RSI Indicator Was Helpful in Spotting the Market Bottom in 2020
The RSI Indicator Was Helpful in Spotting the Market Bottom in 2020 (Click to Zoom)

This Chart Uses TradingView. Get TradingView Free

This chart was built using TradingView, our review-winning best stock market software. You can get TradingView for Free.

The Best Indicators to Use With RSI

There may not be any “best” indicator to use with RSI, but you should select indicators that perform different calculations. RSI is a price indicator, so in addition to RSI, you should use a price and volume indicator such as OBV or Money Flow. When RSI and OBV or Money flow both agree in direction, it is a reliable way to interpret trend direction.

In the Corona Crash market analysis, I used RSI with the Advance-Decline Ratio (ADR), the Know Sure Thing (KST) indicator, and the Volume Indicator with a Moving Average 20 line.

When Not To Use RSI

Stock chart indicators never work perfectly all the time. If the RSI indicator tells you nothing important, please use other indicators or review another stock where the indicators will tell you something.

To control your investment, your money, and your destiny take hard work, but the fruit will be sweet.

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  1. Bollinger bands 10 period one standard deviation paints true direction of any stock/forex in every time frame chart– FOR UPTREND –direction of bollinger bands must be going up,candles must be in the upper half of bollinger bands preferably hitting upper band or riding the upper band (OR VICE VERSA FOR DOWN TREND) Check Bollinger band in higher time frame for direction (say one hour) & enter on bollinger band on lower time frame chart(say 15 minutes).3 period RSI would give you true direction if confirmed on 2 time frame charts in similar fashion.Please comment–we seek your wisdom.

  2. Thanks Barry for the post..
    You explained some interesting indicators in this section/grade.. Can you give us a prioritized list of the indicators that you use when using the charts? for swing trade for few months to a year? Thanks again


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