If you are looking to buy or sell a stock or mutual fund, the process of placing the order will go much more smoothly if you know the stock or fund's ticker symbol. The ticker symbol for a stock generally contains one to four letters that often make some logical sense in relation to the name of the company, however, for some there is no relationship. Mutual fund ticker symbols tend to be five letters long. Your best best is to look up symbols online.
Go to a financial- or investing-oriented website. While the site can be one that deals specifically with these areas, do-everything sites, such as Yahoo! and Google, contain finance areas as part of their larger offerings.
Look for the area where you are asked to enter a symbol to retrieve a stock quote. Different websites use different ways of structuring prompts and information, however, most include a "Symbol Lookup" link near the stock quote box.
Enter the name of the company or mutual fund you need the ticker symbol for. The symbol lookup feature at the MarketWatch website gives users several different options. You can elect to search specifically for a fund or other type of product, usually a stock. You can also search by country. For example, as MarketWatch's example shows, if you were to search for "Air Canada" under the United States, you would not receive its stock symbol as a result. If you select "Canada" for country, however, your first result shows the ticker symbol for Air Canada, ACB, on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
- If you don't know the exact name of a company or mutual fund, enter as much as you know. Your results will usually contain close matches or many of a fund family's offerings. You can scroll through the list to find the symbol you are after.
As a writer since 2002, Rocco Pendola has published numerous academic and popular articles in addition to working as a freelance grant writer and researcher. His work has appeared on SFGate and Planetizen and in the journals "Environment & Behavior" and "Health and Place." Pendola has a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies from San Francisco State University.