Options are an important instrument for many traders, and to understand options you need to understand options tables and learn how to read option tables!

Depending on the software or website you use, the actual information may vary, but all tables have these basic sets of information:

 Calls Puts Strike Vol Expiry Last Chg Bid Ask Open Int Symbol

Calls: This will show whether the option being looked at it is a call (gives the option to buy at a future date)

Puts: This will show whether the option being looked at is a put (gives the option to sell at a future date)

Strike: The strike price is the price at which we can exercise the option. For example, a call option with a strike price of 50 will allow to buy the stock at \$50 instead of the current price.

Vol: The Volume works the same as stocks. It is the amount of option contracts that have been traded (Note: options contracts are always for the 100 options! So when you buy 1 option contract you are actually buying 100 options to call or put the underlying stock!)

Expiry: This is the month, day, and year that the option expires. At option expiry you will either get the your profit if you are “in the money” or your options will be worthless if you are “out of the money”.

Last: The last traded price, just like with stocks.

Chg: The change in price from the open to the last price, just like with stocks.

Bid: The price you get when you buy an option.

Ask: The price you get when you sell an option.

Open Int: This indicates the open interest or number of outstanding options contracts.

Symbol: There are many different ways that option symbols are shown, but the symbol is based on the underlying stock, the strike price, and the expiration date. Here is one of the more used symbols:

GE150821C00018000

To understand what this symbol is telling us, we need to break it into parts:

GE150821C00018000

These are what each part means:

GE: This is the symbol of the underlying stock
150821: This is the expiration date: “15” as the year, “08” as the month, and “21” as the day. Now we know this option expires on August 21, 2015
C: This tells us whether this is a “Call” or “Put” option. C stands for Call, P for Put
00018000: The last part is the Strike Price. The rightmost 3 digest are the decimal values (all options go down to tenths of cents, so there are 3 decimal places shown), so we know that this option’s strike price is \$18.

Put it all together, and we know this is the symbol for a GE Call stock that expires on August 21, 2015, with a strike price of \$18. Similarly, MFST170123P00008275: Would be a Microsoft 2017 January 23rd expiry Put with a strike price of 8.275\$.