The format of option symbols was created by the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC). Click here for our printable Guide to Option Symbols.
Industry Option Symbols
Options symbols are made up of 17 to 21 characters, depending on the length of the symbol representing the underlying security. Symbols are constructed as follows:
Symbol + Expiration Date (Year, Month, Day) + Call or Put + Strike Price (in dollars to 3 decimal places)
In the following example, you'll see the breakdown of an option symbol for fictional stock XYZ and how many characters are devoted to each part of the symbol:
OCC Option Symbol: XYZ 100320C00027500
XYZ - Symbol (up to 6 characters)
10 - Year (2 characters)
03 - Month (2 characters)
20 - Day (2 characters)
C - Call/Put (C or P)
00027 - Strike Dollar (5 characters)
500 - Strike Decimal (3 characters)
This symbology applies to equity options, yield-based options, short-dated options, exchange-listed flexible (Flex) options and Long-Term Equity Anticipation Securities (LEAPS).
Option Symbols at Scottrade
To keep things simple, the option symbols you see on our trading tools, confirmations and statements, transaction history, watch lists and alerts are shorter and easier to read than the complete OCC symbols.
Given the same example as above, a call contract for XYZ with a strike price of $27.50 and an expiration of March 20, 2010, you will see the following symbol used by Scottrade:
Scottrade Symbol: XYZ 27.50 MAR 10 C
XYZ - Symbol
27.50 - Strike Price
MAR - Month
10 - Year
C - Call/Put
On your Positions page, you'll see this symbol along with a more detailed description: CALL-XYZ CORP MAR 27.500 03/20/2010. Clearer symbols and detailed descriptions are included to help you better track your options positions.
You'll see the simple Scottrade options symbols on our trading tools, confirmations & statements, transaction history, watch lists and alerts. This will be paired with the OCC symbol on your confirmations, statements and transaction history. You will see only the OCC symbol used on your tax statements.
Currently, many option contract root symbols are different than the ticker symbol of the underlying security. For example, fictional symbol XYZ might have several option symbols designating different contracts issued by the company (XYQ, XYA, XYY, etc.). The OCC has initiated a process called consolidation to eliminate multiple symbols and make all option symbols match the ticker symbol of the underlying.
Symbols will be consolidated from March to May 2010 and will be taken in groups designated by the OCC. Other than a small group of special symbols that will be consolidated first, symbol groups are alphabetized by the first letter of the underlying security. Consolidation occurs after market close, and dates are as follows:
March 12 - Symbols ACAS, AUX, CMCSA, F, INTC, MNX, OIH, SPWRB, VIAB, VZ, XDN, XLE
April 9 - Symbols beginning with 'A' to 'C'
April 23 - Symbols 'D' to 'I'
May 7 - Symbols 'J' to 'R'
May 14 - Symbols 'S' to 'Z'
On the consolidation date for a given symbol, ALL open options orders for that symbol will be cancelled and may be re-entered once consolidation is complete. Even if a particular option root symbol is already the same as the underlying, the option order will be cancelled on the OCC consolidation date for the underlying symbol.
If you have questions about option symbols or the consolidation process, please contact your branch office.
Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Detailed information on our policies and the risks associated with options can be found in the Scottrade Options Application and Agreement, Brokerage Account Agreement, and by downloading the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options and Supplements (PDF) from The Options Clearing Corporation, or by requesting a copy from your local branch office. Market volatility, volume, and system availability may impact account access and trade execution. Supporting documentation for any claims will be supplied upon request.