How to make a Trading Journal

Do you log all your trades? If you do, when’s the last time you reviewed all the trades you took? Did you noticed anything about your trades and took action to improve your Trading Plan? There are many tools available to help you log, or journal your trading activities. I’m going to cover the easiest and quickest way that’s completely free.

How to make a Trading Journal for FREE

CLICK HERE for your FREE automated trading journal (required google login)

A trading journal can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. In my method, I’m going to show you a simple Google Sheets (or Excel) document that you can build to track all your trades. The few reasons why I choose Sheets are simple. It’s free, and I can customize it whatever way I want it. I can build the type of reports I want, but most importantly its mine. Imagine if you stored all your trades in a 3rd party tool then one day they disappeared and all your data with it? 

Using Sheets will take a little work in the beginning to setup. You’ll probably start by manually entering the data but eventually, you will want to use formulas to help make the data entry quicker and easier. My Trading Journal is fully automated. I only need to put the entries, stops, and exits of my positions, and everything else is calculated for me. 

trading journal sample
What my trading journal looks like

What’s the point of a Trading Journal anyways?

A Trading Journal isn’t just about showing how awesome of a trader you are. As a matter of fact, I think that’s exactly the opposite of reason of a Trading Journal. What a Trading Journal is, is your history of all your past trades. The what trade you took, the which stocks you traded, the how you took the trade, when you took the trade, and why you took the trade. 

This information is invaluable when you are doing self-review. It’s impossible to remember every single trade and all the details about each of them. If you have all this information stored in your journal, things become so much easier. I honestly can’t remember the CAG trade on the 27th of June in the screenshot above, but from my Trading Journal, I can see that I closed that trade too soon. 

Building your Trading Journal

Time to get started. If you already have a Google account, simply go to the Google docs and create a new sheet (click here to go to Google). If not, sign up and click that link after you have logged in.

Now you can start by asking yourself the questions: what, which, how, when, and why.

Obviously we want the date of the stock you traded. We will want which stock ticker you traded. You will want your entry, your stop your targets when you went into the trade, then you’ll want to know the results of how you exited the trade. 

I’ve saved the why for the last part. In my first screenshot you will see the last column is the Comments section. I comment and review each and every single trade. Actually, you can get a detailed review of all my automated trades here. Not only do I journal my trades, but I also review each trade every day so I can improve my win ratio.

The why is very important in your Journal. This allows you to go back during your review period, look at the chart and go “ahh that’s why I took this trade”. Don’t leave this part out in your journal.

Scaling up your Trading Journal

So you got the basic information and you’ve started your journal. After a couple of weeks, you’ll start looking at ways to make your data entry faster.

Formulas

Google sheets have a massive library of formulas that you can use. For example, I use this formula to automatically calculate the number of shares my trade took so I don’t need to enter this information. 

=IF(E11=0," ",If(D11>E11, G11/(D11-E11), G11/(E11-D11)))

I already know how much I risk so the share amount is the same in my broker. Now I already enter my entry and exit price, Because I’ve automatically calculated the number of shares, I can now make a simple formula to calculate my P&L. See where I am going with this?

Reporting

Next up you’ll want to create some sort of dashboard. Here you can compile all the data from your Trading Journal to give you a general idea how you are performing. 

Mine might look a little confusing at first since I trade with automation but its pretty simple once you understand.

Trading Overview
My trading dashboard

I trade a number of strategies (made up names in the top left). I break down each strategy with their overall performance, but I also look at how they performed over the month. I also know how I performed each month overall. On this dashboard, I have a general idea of how well I am doing with my trading.

You know what the best part about this dashboard is that it’s all automated. It pulls all the data I’ve already entered and just calculates it differently. I could add fancy’s charts and ticker breakdown, best trades, worst trades, etc. Anything is possible with Google sheets and you can really customize your dashboard to fit whatever criteria you are looking for. 

Conclusion

I’ve showed you how I do my Trading Journal. After you’ve done the initial setup, it is pretty easy to enter your trades at the end of the day. I don’t recommend using the broker reports to see how you are performing when trading the markets. You’ll get P&L, drawdowns, and other generic information but nothing of value when it comes to how you can improve your performance as a trader.

A proper trading journal will support and guide you to improve your trading. Using the data you collected, you’ll quickly see flaws in your Trading Plan, and you can make changes to your trading. This tool will be your single best asset when it comes to improving your trading.

Take the time to build your Trading Journal and enter the data. Make it part of your trading routine to fill it out at the end of every day. Review your journal at least once a month. Look for patterns in your trading and fix the issues you see. Grade your trade. “A” quality setups, played out great, while “D” quality trades mostly got stopped out, etc. 

Be sure to make a copy of the free automated trading journal to help you get started!

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