How to Attach a Trailing-Stop Order




Definition of, and how to attach a trailing-stop.

How to Attach a Bracket to an Order




Definition of, and how to attach a bracket to an order.

Overview of the Scale Trader Algorithm


The ScaleTrader is a sophisticated trading algorithm which allows one to enter a large quantity order that is executed in a series of increments or components, with each component being executed at a progressively better price.

When to Use
The use of this algorithm is well suited to situations where a stock is trading at or near the bottom of a trading range and the trader is looking to average down, buying into a declining market. Alternatively, it may be used on the opposite side when the trader is looking to sell into the top of the trading range, perhaps scaling out of a long position. In either situation, the Scale Trader algorithm also allows the trader to scalp the market, submitting opposite profit taking orders against the original order.
How to Locate
The Scale Trader can be accessed from the TraderWorkstation by selecting the Trading and then Scale Trader menu options at the top of the page or it can be added to the trading toolbar menu by clicking on the Add More Buttons icon.
Order Set Up
Once the trader has defined the instrument and action (buy or sell), five parameters will need to be specified. Traders will also need to define the order type and time in force. These five parameters for a stock purchase (sale) would be as follows:
  1. Total Order Size (TOS) – the total number of shares the trader is willing to purchase (sell) as the price falls (increases);
  2. Initial Component Size (ICS) – the number of shares to be purchased (sold) at the Starting Price;
  3. Subsequent Component Size (SCS) – the additional number of shares to be purchased (sold) at each Price Increment (at successively lower prices in the case of a purchase and higher in the case of a sale). If a SCS is not entered, the ICS will be used for all component orders.
  4. Starting Price (SP) – the price at which you are willing to purchase (sell) the Initial Component Size
  5. Price Increment (PI) – in the case of a purchase (sale), this is the decrease (increase) in price at which each successive component order is to be executed.
Based upon the inputs provided to those parameters, the Scale Trader application will calculate a Top Price (TP) and a Bottom Price (BP) which, depending upon the buy or sell action selected, will either determine the price at which the last order will be executed (BP for purchases and TP for sales) or be relevant only if the same scale is used to close or restore the size of the position (TP for purchases and BP for sales). Adjustments made to either of these two factors will be reflected in the PI and their calculations are as follows:
  1. TP = (((ICS/SCS) -1) * PI) + SP
  2. BP = SP – (((TOS - ICS)/SCS) * PI
Note that once a product symbol has been entered a price chart will be displayed to assist in specifying the parameters. The algorithm will not be activated until the Transmit button has been clicked and once transmitted will run indefinitely until stopped or changed or it encounters conditions where it stops. It's important to note that this particular algo will continue to run even if the trader is not logged in to the TWS.
Assume a GTC limit order is entered into the Scale Trader to buy 1,000 shares of hypothetical stock ABC having a NBBO of $19.95 - $20.00 at a starting price of $20.00 with 500 more shares purchased at every $0.05 down, resulting in a maximum position of 4,000 shares. The five parameters for this order would be as follows:
  1. TOS = 4,000;
  2. ICS = 1,000;
  3. SCS = 500;
  4. SP = $20.00
  5. PI = $0.05
This order would be then be scaled into 7 components consisting of one at 1,000 and 6 at 500 each. The first component is submitted at $20.00 and after it fills the next component (500) would be submitted at $0.05 lower. That order would wait until marketable and once it has been filled the next component will be submitted. This pattern continues until all components have been filled or the order has been cancelled.
Managing the Trade
  1. Profit taking orders – the Scale Trader may be set to send an offsetting order to take advantage of periodic price surges or if the trader has reached a specified profit objective. This feature may be enabled by checking the box titled “Create profit taking order” and specifying the Profit Offset. Using the example above and a Profit Offset of $1.00, once the ICS was filled at $20.00 and an SCS submitted at $19.95, two profit orders would also be submitted, one for 500 shares at $21.00 and another for 500 shares at $21.05. It should be noted that profit orders are scaled to the SCS regardless of the size of the ICS and that if the ICS > SCS then the profit order price is determined using the PI along with the Profit Offset. 
  2. Restore size after taking profit – if using the profit taking orders feature, the trader can enable the repurchase of shares sold at a profit at the price they were originally bought at by checking the box titled “Restore size after taking profit”. This feature remains active whenever the price is within the range of TP + Profit Offset and BP. Using the example above, if order to sell 500 shares at $21.00 was executed this fill quantity would be put back into the original order at $20.00 and the order submitted at $19.95 would be cancelled.
  3. Restart Scale Trader & Restart Scale Trader with Filled Component Size – these features allow traders using the profit taking order and restore size features to restart the algorithm if stopped, helping to resume the order starting from the point at which the scaled sequence left off.
  4. Auto Price Adjustment – selecting this check box allows for an increase or decrease in the starting price automatically at stated time intervals (e.g., increase $0.01 every hour)
  5. Scale Trader Page – provides a view of the real-time status of scale orders, including filled and total quantity, filled, remaining, and total value, and the percent filled for each scale. Accessible via the Page and then Create Scale Trader Page menu options.
  6. View Scale Progress - right-click on the scale order line and select View Scale Progress. This will open a window displaying the complete scale price ladder, the Open/Filled component list for the parent scale order, and the Open/Filled component list for the child profit orders.
Other Considerations
Acceptable inputs for this algorithm include:
  1. Products – any product offered by IB other than mutual funds (e.g., stocks, options, ETFs, bonds, futures, Forex);
  2. Order Type - limit or relative (relative not offered for combination orders)
  3. Time in Force – Day, Good-til-Cancel or Day-til-Cancel. May also specify if order is allowed to be filled outside of regular trading hours, if executions may be routed and executed during pre-open session and whether to ignore opening auction.




Beginning in 2006, working groups comprised of brokers, exchanges, clearing houses and vendors were formed in order to represent each of the U.S. and Canadian securities industries in a multi-year effort to develop a revised data format for representing listed option symbols. These efforts, referred to as the Option Symbology Initiatives (OSIs), are intended to provide the following benefits:
-         Decrease the number of errors in the front, middle and back office processes.
-         Represent the vast majority of listed option contracts using the same symbol as the
           underlying security to reduce investor confusion.
-         Reduce corporate action symbol conversions.
-         Eliminate wrap symbols.
-         Eliminate the need for LEAP rollover process.
-         Reduce the frequency of coordination among exchanges for symbol elections.
-         Support the growth in product listings through additional expiration events and more
           flexible strike price designations.
The following article provides background information regarding the products impacted by the OSI, the revised data format, project timeline and client impact as well as external links where additional information may be found.
The table below lists the product classifications of the US and Canadian exchange listed options which are impacted by the OSIs.  Note that while the mandated conversion date for Canadian options is identical to that of the US (i.e., February 12, 2010), the conversion of Canadian options was accelerated and completed by IB in September 2009.
Equity (short cycle, regular full cycle and long term)
Yield Based
Foreign Currency
Short Dated
Each OSI will replace the 5-character code with a 21-character OSI identifier to be used in the transmission of listed option contracts between exchanges, the clearinghouses and their constituents. The 21-character OSI identifier comprises six data elements arranged in logical order, each with a minimum field size. An example is provided in the table below.  


5-character Code
21-character OSI Identifier*
OSI Data Elements (minimum field size)
Option Root
SPX    111216P01900000
MSFT  100116C00047500
*If the Option Root Symbol is less than 6 characters, spaces are added to equal the six character minimum.
The industry effort has been organized into two phases:
1. The Conversion Phase in which the OPRA code format will be dropped and the 21-character record layout employed to include the expiration day and decimal strike price. This phase was completed on February 12, 2010; and
2. The Consolidation Phase during which LEAPS, wrap, FLEX, short-dated and non-standard delivery contracts will have their symbols consolidated to that of the underlying (e.g. MSQ to MSFT).  This phase will take place over the 5 weekends starting March 12, 2010 and ending May 14, 2010. Note that there are certain contracts, referred to by OCC Class Consolidation Exceptions, which will not be consolidated.  These contracts include binary and CDO options, options having a 5 character underlying as well as  options having unique settlement terms (e.g., settle on open).  In addition, adjusted symbols which are the result of a prior corporate action will be consolidated to the new OSI corporate action format at the time the underlying class consolidates.
Outlined in the table below are the key milestone and effective dates for this consolidation phase and the products impacted.
Milestone Date Action Issues/Series Impacted Effective Date
Friday, March 12, 2010 Initial group of options representing array of product scenarios to be consolidated (approx 12 classes) Options associated with a strategic group of underlyings including adjusted and non-standard symbols Monday, March 15, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010 Standard Expiration    
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 Quarterly Expiration    
Friday, April 9, 2010 Consolidation of options whose primary underlying starts with the letters A-C (approx 503 classes) All options associated with 'A-C' underlyings including adjusted and non-standard symbols Monday, April 12, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010 Standard Expiration    
Friday, April 23, 2010 Consolidation of options whose primary underlying starts with the letters D-I (approx 486 classes) All options associated with 'D-I' underlyings including adjusted and non-standard symbols Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010 Consolidation of options whose primary underlying starts with the letters J-IR(approx 575 classes) All options associated with 'J-R' underlyings including adjusted and non-standard symbols Monday, May 10, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010 Consolidation of options whose primary underlying starts with the letters S-Z (approx 503 classes) All options associated with 'S-Z' underlyings including adjusted and non-standard symbols Monday, May 17, 2010
During this consolidation phase Good-till-Canceled (GTC) and Good-till-Date (GTD) orders will need to be canceled for all the option classes which are scheduled to consolidate. To accommodate this exchange mandate, IB will cancel all customer GTC and GTD orders on the Sunday of each milestone cycle.  Confirmation of these cancellations (outs) will be provided prior to effective date open (Monday) at which point customers may re-enter these orders utilizing the post consolidation symbol.
For additional information, please visit the symbology initiative sections of the OCC and Montreal Exchange websites.  


Technical FAQs - TWS


Where I can see the TWS system requirements?
Minimum and recommended systems requirements for supported operating systems are listed here. To ensure that you have an adequate Internet connection and enough system resources to run TWS, we recommend that you first open a Trial Account and test the platform.
What are the connectivity requirements to run TWS?
The list of servers which need to be reachable from your machine for operating the TWS are available in the section "DESKTOP TWS" of KB2816.
Can I perform a connectivity test before running the TWS?
It is possible to verify if your computer can reach the needed servers following the instructions on KB2807.
Do I need to install Java before installing or running the TWS?
You do not need to download or install Java manually. The Java Runtime Environment used by TWS is deployed automatically to your machine during the TWS installation.
How do I install the TWS?
The installer packages and related instructions can be found on the Installation Instructions page.
In which cases I should use the OFFLINE version of the TWS?
If you have a slower Internet connection or a restrictive firewall / security system, you may use the OFFLINE version of TWS. This version already packages all the needed core application files in the installer and does not need to download any additional component during the installation. Moreover this version will not perform automatic platform updates during the start-up phase. Please notice that a working Internet connection and network access to our servers is still required in order to run the OFFLINE TWS, as described in the section "DESKTOP TWS" of KB2816.
What is a BETA release, and how can I use it?
The beta release is a pre-production version of an upcoming release that allows you to actively trade while you test new features. You must deliberately elect to use the beta when you log in and should be aware that you do so at your own risk. Since the beta is under construction until production release, we welcome your input on its performance. The beta will be promoted to production after it has been tested both in-house and externally over a specified time period.
How will I know when a new TWS version has been released?
The TWS update wizard will automatically check for TWS updates each time you log in to the platform. 
Note: The OFFLINE verrsion of TWS will not perform the automatic update. Should you want to update the OFFLINE TWS platform, you need to download and run again the TWS OFFLINE installer.
How do I know what changes are in a new TWS release?
The login page includes links to both the beta and production release notes. These notes briefly describe new features and problems that have been fixed.
Where can I find more information and guidance about the TWS?
Instant help resources include the TWS Webinars, TWS Release Notes, TWS User's Guide, and the Online Tutorials. If you still cannot find an answer to your question, you can contact our Client Services.
How do I reinstall the TWS?
First, remove the TWS software from your machine using your operating system uninstall facility (usually present within the System Settings or within the Control Panel). You can then download and install the TWS again following the instructions on the TWS Software page.
Why are my credentials rejected during login?
You will receive this message for one of the following reasons:
- you are not entering the proper username (check to be sure the Caps Lock key isn't on)
- your account has not been set up yet
- you've entered your password incorrectly more than 10 times
Can I have multiple TWS instances running simultaneously with the same username?
A username can only have one session running at a given time. If your username starts an additional trading session, the system will ask you to disconnect the previous one. In order to run multiple trading sessions, you would need to create additional usernames as described in KB1004.
Can I copy the TWS layout of a given user to another one?
Yes. The procedure is described in KB2320.
On my Mac machine I cannot launch two instances of the TWS. Is there anything I can do?
This is a limitation of the MacOS system but two workarounds are available and detailed in KB2637.
When I install the TWS, the installer tells me that it can not write a file. What should I do?
This is usually due to wrong / missing filesystem permissions of your user not having the rights to install software. You may try to SHIFT + right click on the TWS installer and select Run as Administrator. If this does not help, we suggest you to contact your IT support or your local PC support and have them install the TWS for you.
When I install the TWS, I receive the error "The signature of the file is corrupt or invalid"
This is usually due to the Microsoft signature vallidation system and can be solved following the instructions on KB2635.
When I try to install the TWS on my Mac machine, I receive the error "TWS installer is damaged and can't be opened. You should eject the disk image." How can I fix this?
This is usually due to the installer package not being digitally signed by Apple. In order to bypass this check, go to your Mac OS System Preferences by clicking on the Apple icon on the top left corner of Screen and on System Preferences. Click then on "Security and Privacy". Make sure you are in the tab: General and set radio button for "Allow apps downloaded from" to "Anywhere". Launch again the TWS installation. It should now complete fine. Once you have installed the TWS, please go back to the Security and Privacy system preferences and set back the radio button on "Mac App Store and identified developers" since letting it to "Anywhere" represents a security risk.
When I start the TWS I receive the error message "Download Settings from server failed". What can I do?
This is most probably due to the set up of your network. The troubleshooting procedure is described KB3146.
When the TWS starts up I receive the error "Update failed, Retry? Cancel?" How can I fix this?
This may happen if your firewall / security system limits or blocks access to the IB update servers. Please consider the TWS connectivity requirements described in the section "DESKTOP TWS" of KB2816.
When I start the TWS I receive the error message "Ddedll.dll file missing or out of date". How can I overcome this?
This error is shown when you try to enable the DDE API access on a 64-bit TWS instance. The steps for the resolutions are indicated in KB2155.
When I start the TWS I receive the error message "Could not create the Java Virtual Machine". What can I do?
This error may be displayed upon TWS startup if you set the memory allocation for the TWS to a value higher than the available RAM of your system or if you set it higher than 2048 Mb on a 32-bit Operating System. To overcome the error, you would need to decrease the memory allocation to a lower value, as explained in this KB2170 procedure.
Can I use the TWS on a network where the IPv6 protocol has priority over the IPv4?
Yes, you just need to open the C:\Jts\jts.ini file and, below the line ###Keep on update, add the following line:
Once done, save and close the file and start again the TWS.
My TWS platform freezes or crashes often. What can I do to improve the situation?
Normally the TWS needs to allocate and use around 1GB of free memory(RAM) on your machine. If your TWS layout is complex or includes many tools, charts, windows, the standard memory allocation may not be sufficient. This may cause the TWS to freeze or crash. The situation can be improved by assigning more system memory to the TWS, as explained in KB2170.
The TWS installation process crashes on some Mac OS X 10.10.5 (Yosemite). How can I solve this?
Just install the Apple patch on the affected machine.
I want to use the TWS from a corporate machine but, upon login, I receive reconnection attempts messages and the platform seems unable to connect to the IB servers. How can I solve this?

Corporate environment have usually restrictive firewall rules which may limit or block access to external resources. In order to run the TWS in such environments, you would need to contact your IT / Networking department and have them consider the TWS connectivity requirements described in the section "DESKTOP TWS" of KB2816.

I use the TWS on multiple computer and I would like to have the same platform layout on all of them. Is it possible?
The TWS settings of a given user can be synchronized across multiple computer. The steps to enable this function are described in KB2282.
Who do I contact in case I experience technical issues with TWS?
IB has two distinct departments that handle specific types of TWS questions. The Client Services deals with everything involving trading, accounts, funding and executions while the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) can help you with connectivity and platform issues.
Should you require immediate help, please call directly our Client Services. We recommend you to:
- call while you are experiencing the problem
- have your computer turned on and ready for the troubleshooting
- have your account information at hand
If your case does not require immediate attention, we advise you to open a Chat with us, ask iBot or submit your inquiry via Message Center ticket. Should you not have access to your Account Management, you can use the Contact IB facility.
In any case, please be ready to provide:
- your username or account number
- a detailed explanation of the problem
- the time-frame during which the problem has occurred or occurs.
- any pattern you have noticed (e.g. the issue surfaced after the last update, the issue surfaces only when market is closed...)
- your operating system and browser (when applicable)


TWS Order Checks

The TWS contains two checks to limit the possibility of customers entering trades at prices which are substantially inconsistent with that of the current market. 

Under the first check, stock buy orders which are 10% above the prevailing NBBO ask price will be automatically rejected by IB as will stock sell orders which are 10% below the prevailing NBBO bid price.  In the case of options, IB's automatic rejection threshold percentage for both buy and sell orders is 20%.  When an order violating these parameters is transmitted, it will be rejected and a TWS pop-up window will be displayed with the following warning message: "Limit price too far outside NBBO".

The second check relates to orders which are transmitted at prices which do not violate the parameters set by IB as outlined above, but which do violate parameters established by the account holder.  Here the account holder is able to establish Precautionary Settings by selecting the Order and then Configure Order Presets menu options from the TWS. This will open up a window providing for the creation of price thresholds set in terms of percentage or the number of ticks outside of the NBBO (settings may also be defined in terms of share/contract quantity or total dollar value of trade).  When an order violating the account holder's parameters is transmitted, it will be rejected and a TWS pop-up window will be displayed with the following warning message: "The price specified would violate the percentage constraint specified in the default order settings.  Do you really want to submit this order".  Unlike in the case of the check set by IB, the account holder has the option of overriding their own settings and transmitting the order by clicking on the "Yes" button.


Glossary terms: 

How can I trade stocks during the pre market or post market?


By default, orders for some products are entered with a restriction referred to as Regular Trading Hours (RTH) Only.  This restriction may prevent submitted orders from executing during the pre and post market sessions.  The following article will clarify this time restriction as well as how it can be modified.




There are risks inherent in trading outside of Regular Trading Hours (RTH) including reduced liquidity, increased volatility, and expanded error trade guidelines  that traders should be aware of and willing to assume prior to transmitting active orders into the market during these times.




How to determine if a submitted order has a RTH restriction applied.

Changing Default Settings

Other Important Notes



How to determine if a submitted order has a RTH restriction applied.


Trader Workstation (TWS)

Orders restricted to RTH only will display a clock icon in the Time in Force (TIF) field.

Hold your mouse over the clock icon to display information regarding when the order can be filled.


Orders without a time restriction will either display no clock icon or will display the clock icon with an exclamation point over it to indicate that it will be active outside of the regular trading session.


 Traders may change the RTH setting by clicking this field before the order has been transmitted.  From the dropdown that appears, check the box that says "Fill outside RTH".


Web Trader

The Create Order window in the Web Trader displays a checkbox that says "Fill Outside Regular Trading Hour".  If this box is grayed out, it indicates that the RTH setting is not applicable for the default order type.


Note:  The RTH restriction cannot be modified once an order has been transmitted.  In order to change the RTH restriction the submitted order must be canceled and a new order entered with the appropriate RTH selection.

Changing Default Settings


Web Trader

The web trader does not support saving of default order types and configurations.  As a result, traders must select the RTH option for each order created if the intention is for it to be active outside of the regular trading session.


Trader Workstation (TWS)

Traders can adjust the default RTH setting in the TWS as follows;

1.  From the Edit >> Global Configuration menu at the top of the main TWS screen. 


2. On the left side of the window that appears, click the "+" next to the word Presets to expand the section.


2.  Next, select the product type (Stocks, Futures, etc.) by clicking on the word so that it is highlighted.


3.  In the Primary Order section, be sure the Order Type is set to LMT. (if MKT or STP is set as the default the RTH setting will not be applicable).


4.  In the Timing section, check the box that says "Allow order to be activated, triggered, or filled outside of regular trading hours".


5.  Click Apply and then OK at the bottom of the window.

6.  Orders that support modification of the RTH restriction (for the product selected in step #1) will be created with the new default applied.


Other Important Notes:


* Traders unfamiliar with the Regular Trading Hours for a particular product may right click on the market data line and choose Contract Info >> Description.  This window will list the Regular Trading Hours for the selected product.

* Forex, OTCBB, and Pink Sheet securities do not have a Regular Trading Hours designation as there is no centralized marketplace or primary exchange.  Traders should use caution when trading these products during the early and late sessions as orders will execute regardless of any default RTH restriction previously applied.


Is there a training manual for the Trader Workstation?


Yes, IB provides a Users' Guide for the Trader Workstation (and also the Web Trader).  This Users' Guide can be found on the website.


You can access the TWS User's Guide at the following link: TWS User's Guide.  There is also a printable version available, but be aware that it is very long should you decide to print it out.  Once the online guide is loaded, you can use the column of yellow folders on the left side to navigate the guide.  For quick access to information on a particular issue you can use the Search button found at the top of the page.

How do I enter the symbol for Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares onto TWS?


There are a variety of symbol conventions for denoting Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares (CUSIP 084670207).  On the IB trading platforms, this security is designated by entering BRK, then a space and then B (BRK B).  This compares to Bloomberg which uses the convention BRK/B and Yahoo Finance which uses BRK-B.


It should also be noted that this security has been designated as a 10-share unit issue by its primary listing exchange, NYSE Arca, due to its relatively low trading volume. A round lot in this security is therefore set at 10 shares as opposed to the standard round lot unit of 100 shares.  If your opening buy or sell order is for an amount less than 10 shares, it is considered an odd-lot and subject to  special handling considerations.   Please review our website under the Trading and then Order Types menu options for additional details.

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