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Crypto Glossary/MACD (Moving Average Convergence Divergence)

MACD (Moving Average Convergence Divergence)

Unlock the power of MACD for successful crypto trading. Learn about MACD components, impulse MACD, settings, and MTF MACD.


The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a powerful, momentum-based technical analysis tool. Traders and investors use MACD to identify potential market trends, momentum, and reversals. This indicator comprises three components: the MACD line, the signal line, and the histogram. Variations like the impulse MACD and multi-timeframe (MTF) MACD further refine this tool for specialized trading styles.

In this discussion, we will:

  • Discuss the MACD and its components: Diving into the core aspects of MACD.
  • Explore the Impulse MACD: Learn about this dynamic variation of MACD.
  • Examine the best MACD settings for day trading: Finding optimal settings for your trading style.
  • Discover the Multi-Timeframe (MTF) MACD: Analyzing multiple timeframes simultaneously for enhanced trading insights.
  • Conclude: Wrapping up our comprehensive dive into MACD.
  • Address FAQ about MACD: Answering top questions for further clarity.

I. MACD and Its Components

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence, or MACD, is a momentum oscillator widely used in technical analysis. It helps traders gauge the speed and direction of a market's price movement.


The heart of the MACD indicator, the MACD line, measures the distance between a security's short-term and long-term exponential moving averages (EMAs). When the MACD line rises, it signals bullish momentum, meaning the market may be primed for a price increase. Conversely, a falling MACD line points to bearish momentum and potential price drops.

Signal Line

The signal line is essentially a 9-day EMA of the MACD line. Traders use this as a trigger for buying or selling decisions. When the MACD line crosses above the signal line, it’s considered a bullish (buy) signal, while a cross below the signal line is seen as a bearish (sell) signal.


The MACD histogram offers a visual representation of the difference between the MACD line and the signal line. A positive histogram indicates bullish momentum, whereas a negative histogram suggests bearish momentum. The histogram allows traders to visually grasp the strength and direction of the market’s momentum quickly.

II. Impulse MACD

A. Overview

Impulse MACD is a variant of the traditional MACD, designed to identify significant price movements or impulses more effectively. This modified indicator helps traders filter out market noise and is particularly efficient in identifying ranging markets.

B. Components and Signal Interpretation

Impulse MACD consists of two primary components: the impulse MACD line and the trigger line. The impulse MACD line is calculated by subtracting a longer period EMA from a shorter period EMA. On the other hand, the trigger line is a simple moving average (SMA) of the impulse MACD line.

Bullish and bearish signals are generated when the impulse MACD line crosses the trigger line. A bullish signal is considered when the impulse MACD line crosses above the trigger line, and a bearish signal when it crosses below.

C. Impulse MACD Formula & Calculation

The Impulse MACD Formula merges the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) and the Rate of Change (ROC):

  1. MACD Calculation: Subtract a 26-day EMA from a 12-day EMA. Then, generate a 9-day EMA of the MACD to create the 'Signal Line.' The difference between the MACD and Signal Line forms the 'Histogram.'
  2. ROC Calculation: Calculate ROC by dividing the current price by the price 'n' periods ago (typically 14 periods), subtract 1, and then multiply the result by 100 to express the ROC as a percentage.
  3. Impulse System: Combine the MACD Histogram and ROC to generate buy, sell, and neutral signals. Enter a long position when the MACD Histogram is above 0 and the ROC is positive. Enter a short position when the MACD Histogram is below 0 and the ROC is negative. Stay neutral when the MACD Histogram and ROC signals conflict.

D. Impulse MACD Settings

Traders can customize the impulse MACD settings to optimize their trading strategies. These settings shape the MACD and the ROC components:

  1. MACD Settings: Adjust the number of periods for the shorter EMA (typically 12 periods), longer EMA (typically 26 periods), and the Signal Line EMA (typically 9 periods) to manage responsiveness to price changes and capture trends.
  2. ROC Settings: Modify the number of periods used for calculating the ROC (typically 14 periods) to emphasize specific timeframes aligning with their trading strategy.

By tweaking these settings, traders can align the indicator better with their trading objectives and risk tolerance, enhancing the Impulse MACD Formula's effectiveness in generating accurate trade signals.

III. Best MACD Settings for Day Trading

Standard MACD settings (12, 26, 9) are commonly used, but day traders often adjust these to better suit their trading styles. Common alternative settings include shorter timeframes such as 8, 17, 9 or 5, 13, 9, making the MACD more responsive to short-term price fluctuations. However, finding the best MACD settings for day trading involves trial and error, and may vary according to the market and individual trading style.

IV. MTF MACD Indicator

The Multi-Timeframe (MTF) MACD indicator is an analytical tool that allows traders to examine multiple timeframes simultaneously. It offers a more extensive view of market trends and potential momentum shifts. By using the MTF MACD, traders can spot opportunities across various timeframes, helping them build a comprehensive and successful trading strategy.


Understanding and effectively using the MACD indicator can significantly improve a trader's ability to identify trends, momentum shifts, and potential market reversals. The Impulse MACD, best settings for day trading, and the MTF MACD provide more nuanced insights for different trading styles. This in-depth glossary entry allows traders to delve into the MACD indicator, enhancing their trading knowledge and strategies.

FAQ about MACD

1. What is the difference between MACD and RSI?

The MACD and RSI are both momentum indicators, but they have different uses and calculations. MACD is used to identify potential buy and sell signals through crossovers and divergences, and measures the relationship between two moving averages of a security's price.

On the other hand, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) measures the speed and change of price movements on a scale of 0-100, and is typically used to identify overbought or oversold conditions in a market. When the RSI reads over 70, the market may be considered overbought, and when it's under 30, the market may be considered oversold.

2. What time frame is best for MACD?

The best time frame for MACD depends on your trading strategy and goals. Short-term traders or day traders may use a 15-minute or 1-hour time frame, while swing traders may use a 4-hour or daily time frame. Long-term investors may use weekly or monthly MACD charts. Remember, the most important aspect is that the time frame aligns with your trading strategy.

3. How do you properly use MACD?

To properly use the MACD, you need to look for crossovers, divergences, and rapid rises/falls:

  1. Crossovers: A bullish signal is formed when the MACD line crosses above the signal line, while a bearish signal is formed when the MACD line crosses below the signal line.
  2. Divergences: When the price of a security diverges from the MACD, it signals the end of the current trend. For example, if the price makes a higher high, but the MACD line makes a lower high, it indicates a potential bearish reversal.
  3. Rapid Rises/Falls: If the MACD rises or falls rapidly, it indicates overbought or oversold conditions respectively, signaling a potential market reversal.

4. How do I read MACD?

The MACD has three components: the MACD line, the signal line, and the histogram:

  • MACD Line: It's the difference between the short-term EMA and long-term EMA. A rising MACD line indicates bullish momentum, while a falling line suggests bearish momentum.
  • Signal Line: It's the EMA of the MACD line, and is used to create buy or sell signals when it crosses the MACD line.
  • Histogram: It represents the difference between the MACD line and the signal line. A positive histogram indicates bullish momentum, while a negative histogram suggests bearish momentum.

5. Why does MACD use 12 and 26?

The 12 and 26 are default settings chosen based on Gerald Appel's original formulation of the MACD. The 12 represents a faster, more reactive EMA, while the 26 represents a slower EMA. These two periods were found to be effective in identifying short-term to mid-term trends. However, the settings can be adjusted according to the trader's preferences and the specific market they are trading.

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