Basic Elliott Wave Labeling and Fractals

Jun 30, 2009: 11:55 PM CST

This post will discuss proper fractal wave labeling within a developing Wave Structure on all timeframes.

First, we understand that the principle is fractal, meaning a complete five-wave impulse up might just simply be part of Wave 1 or Wave 3 (or Wave 5) of a larger complete wave structure, which itself might be part of an even larger wave structure.

This image of the Sierpinski Triangle should give a visual image of how to visualize Elliott Waves as smaller and larger fractals making up a full picture:

This image from Flickr (via Meister Schlauch) shows how the complete, singular triangle is actually comprised of four identical triangles (look very closely – three filled in triangles are pointing up while a clear/hollow triangle is pointing down).  And if you look at one of the filled triangles, you’ll see the exact same repetition, just on a smaller scale.  And if you look inside one of the filled triangles of that fractal, you see the exact same pattern that comprises the whole, singular triangle one degree higher.

This is how to understand Elliott Wave Fractal ‘waves within waves.’

Here is how to label most waves you’ll encounter if you’re not a deep-level Elliottician:

Most likely, you won’t go above the Primary Trend or below the Minute trend on a singular chart, so this simple guide should be sufficient.

The largest wave would be circled, one degree lower would be placed in parenthesis, one degree lower would be a normal number (or letter), and then one degree below that (usually intraday) would use the Roman Numerals.

It goes without saying that, while this is the proper and accepted guideline, it’s common to see various counts depending on the analyst, but Elliott purists would consistently use this methodology.

This way, if you’re trying to read an Elliott Wave forecast, you’ll know the logic behind why the analyst used the labeling system he or she chose.

Here is an example of proper fractal wave structure labeling on the S&P 500:


(Click for larger image – for educational purposes only – not a market forecast)

As mentioned earlier, the 3rd wave will subdivide into its own 5-wave structure.  However, each wave of the 3rd wave subdivides into its own 5-wave affair.  I’m only labeling the 3rd wave of each respective fractal down to four degrees of a fractal count to show you how waves subdivide within waves, and to show how to label (or interpret) different degrees properly.

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