Trading Journal Example – How To Make One (Including Spreadsheet)

Last Updated on April 19, 2022 by Quantified Trading

This article provides you with a downloadable trading journal example. A trading journal (or trading log) is a great tool for any aspiring trader. We recommend writing down all your trades in a database after each trading day.

This article describes what a trading journal is, why they are useful, how you create one, what to record in the journal, how often you should look at your trading journal, and finally, we provide a trading journal example.

Invest in preparedness, not in prediction.

  • Nassim Taleb

First, let’s define what a trading journal is:

What is a trading journal?

A trading journal is a log (normally a spreadsheet) that you use to record your trades. Let’s call it a database of all your trades. If you take trading seriously, you’ll find this as an invaluable tool later on:

Why trading journals are useful

We have emphasized many times the importance of a trading journal, and we can assure you will find it handy and useful at a later time.

Perhaps the main reason why a trading log is useful is that it forces you to have a trading plan. It might force you to backtest what you are actually trading! Additionally, you need to share some thoughts on risk management, drawdowns, and trading psychology.

Other things that are useful with a trading journal:

  • You get statistics of your win ratio and consistency
  • You can compare backtests to live trading (to find out slippage)
  • It keeps you accountable
  • You can find patterns in your habits you were unaware of
  • You can find which strategies you perform the best at
  • Get trading ideas

The last point is often overlooked. A trading journal is a great tool to get inspiration and new trading ideas, and having a trading journal is one of our main trading lessons.

How to create a trading journal

Creating a trading journal is simple. You need a spreadsheet and you need to tailor the spreadsheet to your own needs, but this is done by trial and error. There are no hard rules for what you need to record, but we provide you with an example further down in the article.

You can create a journal in 1-2 hours. The best advice is simply to start. As you go along you might find other variables you want to record.

When to keep records in trading journal spreadsheet

At the end of the trading day, you would want to write down all your trades in your trading spreadsheet. It might not be the fanciest job in the world, but our best advice is to put in the records while it’s still fresh in your memory, even though it might be more tempting to order champagne and escorts after a great trading day.

If you keep records for a long time, it gets more and more interesting the more data you have. You can look back on past performance and find out where you went wrong or what you can do to improve performance. The devil is often in the details.

An example of what you could have in your trading journal is the following:

  • Name of strategy
  • Long or short direction
  • Date of opened position
  • Date closed position
  • Entry price (commission)
  • Exit price (commission)
  • Position size
  • Max drawdown
  • Risk/reward
  • Profit/loss

As you can see, this is no rocket science.

As you go along you’ll most likely expand on the variables in the journal and log. You need to find out by trial and error what works the best for you.

When to scrutinize and reflect upon the trading journal

A trading journal is a tool that you should at least look at monthly, but it depends on your amount of trades, of course. The more data you have in your database, the better the tool.

Download our trading journal example spreadsheet

We have made a simple trading journal example (spreadsheet) for your convenience to download:

Summary about trading journals

This article provides you with a trading journal example (spreadsheet). The benefits are more apparent the longer you trade and the more experience you get.

When you start trading you should make sure you have a trading journal as soon as possible. You’ll soon discover what you are doing correctly or where you go wrong!

 

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  • Hi Oddmund, as usual your articles are very useful. I disagree on one point only: recording trades every day in the trade log. I used to do this long ago, but this made me more inclined to make discretionary trades trying to correct the equity line when I didn’t like it. And avoiding discretionary trading is the big hurdle to overcome.

    • Hi Luca,
      Thanks for commenting. Most actions we take have side effects. Yours I have never thought about.

      We got to stick to what works for oneself. A trading log works very well for me and makes me NOT make discretionary trades. I guess we a re all different 🙂