How the industry developers format options contract symbols

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Aug 15, 2021
Behailu Tekletsadik

Hi there! Founder of uselantern.com here to help you optimize some processes involving algo-trading with options.

Rather than have to plug in 4 separate arguments for each contract (making it impossible to send in a list of options in a single and easy request) it’s better to transform them into one string in a standardized format.

There’s a standardized format for this and it’s really only based on the 4 key factors of every options contract.

There are 4 key factors:

  1. The Underlying symbol
  2. The expiration date
  3. The Strike Price
  4. The option type
  5. Whether it’s a mini option — uncommon

Here’s a classic example. We have an Apple $200 call expiring on August 13, 2021.

You would format the company as AAPL, the expiry as a YYMMDD 6 digit date format → 210813, the call as C (puts are P) and just add the strike price at the end without the $.

That way you end up with AAPL210813C200.0

If it’s a mini-option then you just simply add a 7 to the symbol so AAPL becomes AAPL7 and the output contract is AAPL7210813C200.0

This is the most common format you’ll see contracts sent in as. We at Lantern use this internally and externally in sockets and soon, most of the rest of our endpoints.

Hope this helps! As always, feel free to ask me any questions or send me a DM on Twitter.


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