Tradestation: Setting Up a Chart with Emini S&P and VIX

By Lawrence

For some mysterious reason, Tradestation does not offer a simple way to display Emini S&P with VIX from 9:30 to 16:00 easily. Here is the step by step instruction on how to do that.

To create a new chart, choose from the Trading App popup window Chart Analysis.


A new chart will be created for you based on the last one you were working on, without all the extra settings or additional symbols.


If the symbol is not the one you want or the timeframe is not the correct one, change them through the right-click menu of the chart

choosing Format Symbol


For the regular Emini S&P symbol, use @ES.D. It is the continuous contract symbol which works fine if you are not going to deploy a trading strategy that trades overnight.

On the Setting tab in the window, you can see that I specified Minute as the time interval and 30 for the bar size.

Since I am going to use this chart for backtesting, I also set the range to 10 Years Back.

The option “Apply time-based …” because all data series in this chart will need the historical data there.

The Display Time Zone option is set to local because I like to use New York time to display my charts and my computer is set to Eastern Time.

Style tab and Scaling tab are really your personal preference which is not my concern here.

However, we need to make sure properties tab is set up correctly so that the chart can host both the Emini S&P and the VIX index.


The regular session setting is the default setting that changes based on the first symbol you add to the chart. The first symbol of a chart is also the symbol that a trading strategy will execute on.

What we need to do here is to change the session setting by pressing the “…” Edit button. The Session window will pop up.


Here you choose Use custom session(s) and you can then choose from a list of predefined templates. The US Stock template is not provided by Tradestation (at least not on my installation). Thus I have to use the Create button there to create this template myself.

After you press the Create button you will see yet another dialog window, Create Custom Session Template, pops up.


Fill in the name US Stock. A better name actually is US Stock Central Time. Then press the Add button to add your first rule.


Fill in the details for Monday then press OK. You will see your rule added to the template.


Next press the button Add Mon-Fri. The rest of the rules will be filled in for you.


Press OK and the new custom session template will be created.

You will be taken back to the Sessions window. Just press OK to complete the session change.

And then press OK on the Format Symbol window to let Tradestation load the data using the new settings for you.

Once you are back to the chart window, use the right click menu to choose Insert Symbol.

This time, you add the symbol $VIX.X. Remember to check the Prompt for Format option because you need to adjust the session setting. It should be defaulted to the same timeframe as Emini S&P. Just switch to the Property tab on the Format window and change the session to the new custom session US Stock Central Time that you created moments ago.

If you have done everything correctly. Your chart will look like this.


Do not panic if your chart does not look like this. You can always choose from the right-click menu Format Symbol to make sure every symbol in the chart are set to the correct session setting.

The reason why getting a simple chart like this has to go through so much trouble is that Emini S&P has multiple trading sessions and they are not the same as the ones used by VIX. IF you just need a chart with the normal stock market hours involved, you have to go through the steps to create the custom trading session template which is really the normal stock market hours based on Chicago time since Emini S&P is traded in Chicago.

All these steps look confusing. As long as you are willing to follow the process step by step you will get the chart you want by the end.

One more reminder, Tradestation has a very bad habit of corrupting charts and it looks like this decade old problem is still there. Thus once you have create the proper chart you want, save everything and exit Tradestation once. This will ensure Tradestation to properly update all the important records including your new custom session in its database so that next time you are opening your charts those custom settings are still there ready for you.


  • CLJones July 2, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Hello! I just started to venture into trading, I came your book and it change my perspective about trading. I was highly motivated and would like to try your training and techniques. However, I have a few questions. If if possible I can run them by you? Thanks!

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