Beginner guitarists can learn chords by consulting a chord chart or by experimentation. If the player already has a background in musical theory and is switching to guitar, he can begin by constructing chords starting from a root note, or from the note on which the chord is based.
A chord chart consists of the strings laid out from lowest to highest, along with a grid of five frets moving down from the beginning of the fretboard. Finger markings are placed on the string just before the appropriate fret, with each marking numbered to indicate which finger it is. The number 1 is index, 2 is middle, 3 is ring and 4 is pinky.
As an example, the G chord appears on a chord chart as a dot before the third fret on the low E string with the number 2, a dot before the second fret of the A string with the number 1, and a dot before the third fret of the high E string. The other strings are marked with a 0, indicating that they should be played open. The player positions his fingers accordingly and plays. If any of the strings are marked with the letter X, the string is not played.