Navigating the Option Chain: A Novice's Manual

Delving into the realm of option trading can feel like navigating a maze, especially for newcomers. Yet, amidst the complexity lies a crucial tool: the Option Chain. Ignoring it is a luxury no trader can afford. Understanding how to decipher option chain data is akin to unlocking a treasure trove of insights essential for success in the day-to-day world of option trading.

This article serves as your compass in this intricate landscape, shedding light on the fundamentals of reading option chain data. By unwrapping the numerical enigma of the option chain analysis, you'll unearth invaluable information to shape your trading decisions.

Where to find Option Chain Data for Option Chain Analysis

You have access to real-time option chain data for indices such as Nifty and Bank Nifty directly on the NSE website. Additionally, all the option chain data for individual stocks trading in the futures and options segment can be found in the same convenient location.

Option Chain - Beginners Guide

Furthermore, BSE has also ventured into option trading, providing access to Sensex Option Chain data on their website. If you're seeking guidance on way to read Sensex Option Chain , you'll find it right here.

Call and Put

Essentially, an option chain comprises two main sections alternatively contracts: Calls and Puts. These sections offer traders two distinct choices for trading. A trader can adopt a long position by purchasing a call option, while buying a put option allows him for taking a short position.

Additionally, traders can engage in call writing or put writing, offering alternative methods for going short or long on a specific security. Whether buying or selling a plain naked put or call, or exploring strategies that combine various types of call and put options, the option chain presents a spectrum of trading possibilities.

These two contracts enable you to purchase or sell shares without physically owning them. As an option buyer, you pay a premium, whereas an option writer receives that premium. This grants the option buyer the right to acquire the shares, while imposing an obligation on the option writer to deliver the shares upon exercise.

Strike Price

The strike price is the prearranged price established in an options contract by both buyers and sellers. This price dictates the level at which the option can be exercised. If you're unsure about selecting an option strike for trading, a helpful guide is provided here.

When observing the Nifty option chain on NSE, the central column displays the full range of available strike prices for trading. For instance, if you, as an option buyer, choose a strike price of 22,500, you're engaging in a contract with a seller who is likewise prepared to transact at that price level.

Moreover, these strike prices based on Moneyness can be categorized into In-the-Money, Out-of-the-Money, and At-the-Money option contracts, which are available for both Call and Put contracts.

In-the-Money (ITM) Option Contracts

Let's illustrate this with an example. On March 28, 2024, the Nifty closed at a level of 22,326. Any call option contracts with a strike price lower than this level are referred to as in-the-money call options, while any put option contracts with a strike price higher than this level are known as in-the-money put options. The distinguishing feature of these in-the-money contracts is their relatively higher premium compared to other options.

At the Money (ATM) Option Contracts

Strike price nearest to the current price of the security is known as At the money option Contracts. For the above example, the strike price of 22350 for Nifty is going to be the at the money call and put options.

Out the Money (OTM) Option Contracts

Strike prices exceeding the At-the-Money (ATM) call option of the security are categorized as Out-of-the-Money (OTM) call options, while those below the strike are referred to as Out-of-the-Money put options. In the given example, all call strikes above 22,350 are Out-of-the-Money call options, while all put options below this level are considered Out-of-the-Money put options. These options represent the most economical choices within the option chain.

Expiration Date

Each option contract listed on the option chain is associated with an expiry date. For instance, suppose an option buyer purchases a Nifty call option with a strike price of 22,500 set to expire on April 25th, and pays an upfront premium of Rs. 250. If the contract is not exercised by the expiry date, it becomes invalid.

It's crucial to note that different contracts have varying expiry dates. For instance, Nifty offers both weekly and monthly expiries. Weekly expiries occur every Thursday, while monthly expiries take place on the last Thursday of each month.

Additionally, three-month option contracts are typically available simultaneously: the current month, the following month, and a more distant month. For example, if it's currently April, available contracts would include April, May, and June.

You have the flexibility to select their preferred expiry date based on your discretion. However, longer-dated contracts generally command higher premiums, whereas current expiry options tend to be more affordable.

Open Interest

Open Interest serves as a crucial gauge, reflecting the liquidity of a stock or strike price. A substantial open interest suggests liquidity, indicating a significant number of traders participating in the market. It denotes the number of outstanding contracts yet to be closed in the market.

However, a high open interest alone does not imply the direction of stock movement unless coupled with price analysis. Essentially, it signifies strong demand for the option. It's important to note that demand in options can stem from both buyers and sellers. While higher demand typically correlates with bullish sentiment, in options, each option buyer corresponds with an option seller, thereby balancing the demand dynamics.


The Volume column in the Option chain indicates the number of contracts traded within a specific timeframe. While open interest represents open contracts, volumes represent closed contracts. This metric also provides insights into the liquidity of the options. Both Open Interest and Volume play distinct roles within the option chain.

Implied Volatility

Volatility serves as a measure to assess the speed at which prices fluctuate. A high level of volatility indicates that the price of a security changes rapidly, regardless of its direction. The "IV" column in the option chain represents implied volatility, which is the forecasted level of volatility.


As mentioned earlier, option buyers obtain the right to receive the stock upon exercising the contract at expiry. However, to acquire this right, buyers must incur a cost known as the premium for the option contract.

The premium fluctuates in accordance with volatility; greater volatility results in higher premiums for sellers of the option, while low volatility scenarios yield lower premiums.

But why does a buyer pay a higher premium in volatile markets?

A highly volatile market is characterized by increased uncertainty and instability, rendering it riskier. Option sellers bear unlimited risks in such conditions. Given the elevated risk they undertake, sellers demand higher premiums.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, understanding the intricacies of the option chain is essential for navigating the complexities of option trading. This article has provided you a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals, including where to find option chain data, the components of call and put contracts, strike prices, expiration dates, open interest, volume, implied volatility, and premiums.

Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently navigate the world of trading, making informed decisions to optimize their strategies and maximize their success in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to Option for a Beginner

What is an option chain?

    An option chain is a comprehensive listing of all available option contracts for a particular security, presenting essential details such as strike prices, expiration dates, premiums, and more.

    Where can I find option chain data?

      Option chain data is readily available on various financial websites and trading platforms. You can access real-time option chain data for indices like Nifty and Bank Nifty on the NSE website, while individual stock option chain data can be found on both NSE and BSE websites.

      What are call and put options?

        Call options give the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy the underlying asset at a specified price within a predetermined period. Put options, on the other hand, grant the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to sell the underlying asset at a specified price within a predetermined period.

        What is the significance of strike prices?

          Strike prices are prearranged prices set in an options contract, determining the price at which the option can be exercised. They play a crucial role in determining the profitability of an option at expiry.

          What do terms like "In-the-Money," "At-the-Money," and "Out-of-the-Money" mean?

            In-the-Money (ITM) options have strike prices favorable to the current market price of the underlying asset. At-the-Money (ATM) options have strike prices closest to the current market price, while Out-of-the-Money (OTM) options have strike prices unfavorable to the current market price.

            How do expiration dates affect options?

              Each option contract listed on the option chain has an expiration date, beyond which it becomes invalid. Understanding expiration dates is crucial as they determine the timeframe within which the option must be exercised.

              What is open interest, and why is it important?

                Open interest refers to the number of outstanding contracts yet to be closed in the market. It serves as a gauge of liquidity and market sentiment, indicating the level of trader participation in a particular option contract.

                What is implied volatility, and how does it impact options?

                  Implied volatility reflects the market's expectation of future price fluctuations for a security. It directly influences option premiums, with higher implied volatility leading to higher premiums and vice versa.

                  Why do option premiums fluctuate?

                    Option premiums fluctuate based on various factors, including volatility, time to expiration, and supply and demand dynamics in the market. Higher volatility generally leads to higher premiums, while lower volatility results in lower premiums.

                    How can I use option chain data to inform my trading decisions?

                    By analyzing option chain data, traders can gain insights into market sentiment, identify potential trading opportunities, and develop strategies to hedge risk or capitalize on market movements effectively.

                    Disclaimer: This article is purely for educational purposes. Any stocks or sectors mentioned should not be construed as buy or sell recommendations. Please consult with your financial advisor before making any investment decision.

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