Course Content
What Is a Trading Journal and How to Use One
Trading journals can be very useful, and they play a central role in the trading plans of most professional traders. Things like planning futures trades, documenting existing positions, and recording any emotions that may pop up are essential factors to be aware of when building a profitable trading strategy. Therefore, knowing how to create and use a trading journal is crucial to any trader's success. Without it, a trader could easily lose track of his winning and losing positions. Or even worse, they could blow up their account.
What Is a Trading Journal and How to Use One
About Lesson

You can find a free trading journal template in the next section, but it’s also important to learn how to create one. You can customize your trading journal in a variety of formats to fit your trading style and needs. As long as you have somewhere to plan and document your trading activities, you’ll be set.

First, you need to create a trading journal spreadsheet (e.g., Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel) and a written document (e.g., Google Docs, Microsoft Word). You’ll be using these to record your exact trades and your thoughts, respectively. If you prefer, you can include the written document as a second tab in the spreadsheet (see template below).

Second, you’ll need to know what you’ll be recording daily so your trading journal will have the highest possible impact on your success. You can find several trading journal examples online. But regardless of the template, your spreadsheet should have columns related to each trade. These columns may include:

  • Entry date
  • Exit date
  • Symbol
  • Direction (long/short)
  • Entry price
  • Position size
  • Notional value
  • Stop loss
  • Take profit
  • Exit price
  • Trading fees
  • Profit/Loss (P&L)
  • Profit/Loss percentage (P&L %)
  • Notes

Some traders may also add the time frame, screenshots of the setup, and anything else they may deem important. The bottom line is for the information to work in their favor.

In your written document (or in another tab), you should have a section for each day where you can write down all your thoughts and ideas so you can get them organized.

The written document is where a trader lets loose their creativity while their spreadsheet helps to measure the profitability of their creativity. Both are very useful when creating and using a trading journal.

And that’s it! Learning how to create a trading journal is the easy part, though. Knowing how to use a trading journal is something you’ll need to get good at over time. However, as long as you have a strong understanding of the fundamentals, you’ll be using your trading journal like a pro in no time.