Online Stock Trading for Beginners: Tools and Education at Your Fingertips

Discover the basics of trading stocks for beginners: Learn how to start trading stocks with online tools, read tips and monitor positions all at your fingertips. supplies: Navigating the online trading experience
3 min read
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Key Takeaways

  • TD Ameritrade clients have a wide variety of how-to videos available on the Education tab
  • The Research & Ideas tab offers a variety of self-guided research tools for both technical and fundamental analysis
  • As you build a portfolio, you can monitor positions in real time and track your profit and loss

Flash back to the 1990s, when early adopters of online stock trading made their first online stock investments.

Adult child: “I just made my first online stock trade.”

Parents: “How did you do that?” 

Adult child: “I just logged in, picked a stock, filled in the boxes for stock ticker, price, and quantity, and clicked the green button.”  

(Blank stares from parents.)

It’s no wonder Mom and Dad were confused. Investing online, trading, or even being able to monitor a portfolio in real time was foreign to a generation that had to meet face-to-face with brokers to buy stock. But today, thanks to technology, it’s easier and more convenient than ever to trade stocks online—even for beginners. And new bells and whistles are being added each year to enhance the online investing experience.

Are you a beginner at online stock trading, or need a refresher? Here are a few basics on the available tools and how to find them.

Online stock trading for beginners starts with the Education tab

If you’re a stock trader just starting out, the logistics of buying and selling may be intimidating. But if you take a moment to learn the process, you might find your comfort zone. TD Ameritrade clients have a wide variety of how-to videos available for free on the Education tab (see figure 1). 

Trading online tool demos, education

FIGURE 1: GETTING STARTED. The Education tab offers dozens of videos and courses. Learn investing basics, advanced concepts, and everything in between. Source: For illustrative purposes only.

Stock trading 101: Do your research

Although pre-trade logistics start with education, stock trading online typically commences with an idea. Seeking potential trade candidates? As a beginner, you might start by looking at companies whose products and services you already use. Once you’ve identified a few ideas, log in to your account at, head to the Research & Ideas tab, and then select Stock Profile. As shown in figure 2, you’ll find a wide variety of tools to help you learn more about each company and decide which one(s) you might want to trade.

Research stock trade ideas
FIGURE 2: GENERATING TRADE IDEAS. Self-guided research for online stock trading includes company news, earnings, fundamental and technical analysis, analyst reports, and more. It’s all available at your fingertips. Source: For illustrative purposes only.

If you don’t have any ideas, you can look for some on the Research & Ideas tab. Select Ideas, then Trade Ideas. Here, you can read daily commentary about the overall the market as well as detailed third-party research reports about individual stocks making headlines.

As you find stocks that interest you, follow them by adding them to your personal watch list (which you can create by going to the My Account tab and selecting Watch Lists). From your watch lists, you can pull up charts, news, earnings estimates, fundamental research, and much more on any particular stocks that pique your interest.

How to start stock trading

After narrowing your list of stock trading candidates, you’ll want to decide what criteria you’ll use to initiate a trade. But this doesn’t have to be a complex process. In fact, sometimes the simplest strategies can be the most powerful.

You might start by pulling up charts on your stocks for a graphic representation of how they trade. In the Upper Indicators drop-down menu, select SMA (simple moving average) to pull up the default 10-day and 50-day moving averages (see figure 3). Some traders use these technical indicators to identify potential stock trends. For example, you might decide to trade a stock when it rallies above one of those moving averages. Or you could draw horizontal lines on the chart to connect areas of resistance or support and then trade stocks that break through resistance or bounce off support.

FIGURE 3: TECHNICAL ANALYSIS. Beginner stock traders often ease into technical analysis by applying a couple SMAs. There are plenty of indicators to explore. Source: For illustrative purposes only.

If you want to learn more about technical analysis and strategies for trading stocks, go back to the Education tab and select Stocks to find a wide variety of videos and courses. Whether you’re a buy-and-hold investor or an active trader, chances are you’ll be able to find a style and strategy that works for you.

When you’re ready to trade, hover over any symbol in your watch list. That will bring up a trade box where you can buy or sell with just a few clicks or taps. As you build a portfolio of stocks, you can monitor them in real time and track your profit and loss by going to the My Account tab and selecting Positions.

Whether you’re a beginner stock trader, a well-seasoned veteran, or anything in between, today’s tools and platforms put the power and flexibility at your fingertips. You can trade the market and follow the action from your desktop, laptop, or on the go via a mobile app. 

As the video below points out, learning to trade stocks is a lot like learning to ride a bike. At first, it might look intimidating or complicated, and dangers seem to be everywhere. That’s why it’s important to learn the basics of stock trading.

Investing in stocks involves risks, including loss of principal.


Key Takeaways

  • TD Ameritrade clients have a wide variety of how-to videos available on the Education tab
  • The Research & Ideas tab offers a variety of self-guided research tools for both technical and fundamental analysis
  • As you build a portfolio, you can monitor positions in real time and track your profit and loss
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