Start A Trading Journal

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How to Keep a Trading Journal

Trading Options For Dummies, 3rd Edition

One of the most impactful, high‐leveraged activities you can adopt is to keep track of all your trading activities in a trading journal. Doing so tracks your experiences in the market, helps you process and carefully analyze them while also keeping them in a permanent place, and then allows you to return to those journal entries at a later time to learn from your past experiences.

When kept right, your trading journal becomes an invaluable reference manual that can help you recall both what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong in the past, thus keeping you on the right track moving forward and preventing the same mistakes again in the future. A trading journal can help you analyze your trades and trading systems to determine which aspects of trading you do well and which ones you need to work on.

When you develop a trading system, save ideas and test results in your journal. When you enter a position, record everything about the trade. Include your thoughts as you contemplate making the trade. When you have a what‐was‐I‐thinking moment later on, you can find the answer in your journal.

Using a loose‐leaf binder to hold your trading journal is probably best. Print before and after charts for each trade and include them in the journal. Keep detailed notes about each trade and about the system you used to trigger the trade. At a minimum, your notes need to include the following:

  • Trade date
  • Stock symbol
  • Number of shares and why you chose that number
  • Whether you bought long or sold short
  • Which system triggered the entry signal
  • Which system triggered the exit signal
  • Where you placed your initial stops
  • If and why you moved your stops
  • What caused you to exit the position and why
  • The percentage gain or loss from the trade
  • Whether any economic reports or announcements were made around or during the time of the trade
  • Your thoughts, hopes, and fears that you had before opening the position and while the position was open

You can also use your journal to keep track of more than just your trading history. Save Internet articles or blogs that influenced your thinking. Cut out and archive the new high and new low lists from the newspaper. Keep a record showing leading and lagging industries. Save sector charts along with your trade records. Whatever information you use to make trading decisions needs to be in your trading journal.

You can improve only the things that you measure. Record statistics about your trades. Include the duration of each trade, the MFE, and the MAE. After you close a trade, write down what you could have done differently. Find out whether you can identify signals that can help you recognize similar situations in future trades.

Although keeping the journal is important, it’s useful only when you review it regularly. Spend a little time every week or month reviewing all your trades so you can pinpoint consistent mistakes or missed opportunities. Be brutally honest with yourself and use your journal as an opportunity to step back, take a cold, hard look at your trading decisions, and evaluate how you can improve moving forward. Every trader, no matter how experienced, always has room to grow. Your trading journal should become the soil that nurtures that growth.

How to Keep a Trading Journal the Easy Way

Robert Deutschman/Getty Images

Trading journals help traders track their trades and thoughts throughout the day. It’s a great tool because a thorough journal includes details beyond what you can see on your brokerage statement. It includes what market conditions were like and if you were distracted or made mistakes. It’s also where you can record strategy ideas which may arise as you trade throughout the day.

All traders should keep a trading journal, but day traders don’t have time to be spilling their guts on paper all day. Keeping a trading journal while trading — when the action is happening — actually could be counter-productive and lead to missed trades.

There’s an easy solution, though, that involves absolutely no handwriting and gives you a historical record of the exact market conditions you were facing on a particular day.

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The Easy Way

A picture tells a thousand words, right? Perfect, let’s use a picture. Instead of writing about market conditions, mistakes, what went well, and new strategy ideas, take a screenshot of the trading day with some typed annotations on it.

Most traders mark up their charts throughout the day, drawing lines and marking indicator levels which help determine the trend and find possible reversal/target points. The chart shows the exact market conditions being traded. Intraday analyses can show your perception of the market that day — something words in a trading journal never could describe as well.

A picture is an easy way to keep a trading journal, but you must include certain things to make it useful when you look back at it for review.

How to Mark Your Charts

These basic guidelines for marking up your charts will make them useful for future reference.

  • Include an hour or two of price action before you begin trading, if applicable. This provides a context for what was happening when you started trading. You don’t need to include price action from the prior day. Doing this can help you better assess time frames to watch while trading.
  • Mark your start time with a vertical line or text note on the chart. It lets you know if you started trading early or late, and/or why you may have missed some trade signals earlier in the day.
  • Write down the times of major economic events you will be stepping aside for. When that time comes around, make a note again that you weren’t trading because of news.
  • Make text notes throughout the day about tendencies and market conditions you notice. If you make an error, make a note of it. If you miss a trade, make a note of it.
  • Keep as many trendlines and drawings on your chart as possible, assuming they don’t distract you. They help to show your future self how you were seeing the market in real time at any given moment.
  • Mark when you stop trading for the day with a vertical line or text note.
  • Type how many trades you made, how many winners, the total profit for winning trades, how many losers, the total loss for losing trades, and the net result. Avoid using dollars, which fluctuate based on position size. Instead, use pips for forex, cents for stocks, or ticks/points for futures. For example, if trading the ES Futures contract, instead of writing “4 winners, $400; 4 losers, $200 = net +$200,” write “4 winners, 8 points; 4 losers, 4 points = net +4 points.”

At the end of the trading day take a screenshot of your chart and paste it into a photo editor. It should include all the information above. If you can’t see everything on one chart, take two or three shots and save them separately.

Save each day with the date as its file name, and keep them in trading folder saved to an easily accessible location on your computer or in the cloud. Create subfolders for each year and month to make the files more easily searchable.

Reviewing Your Journal

At the end of each week and month, go back and see what you did, notice common problems, and spot your strengths. These observations can help you exploit your strengths and highlight the areas you need to work on.

Taking screenshots is more effective at capturing information than you could by just writing in a journal. Plus, if you do want to write stuff down, you can do so right on your charts, or keep a written trading journal as well. Be diligent in this routine, so that you have every trade you make recorded.

5 of the Best Sites for Creating an Online Journal or Diary

January 18, 2020 |

Are you someone who likes keeping a journal or diary? Do you find it rewarding to keep up with your daily activities or to make notes on your feelings or vacation times with family? If so, you may want to look into one of these sites in our post below, or even walk through our free guide on how to start a blog using WordPress — which can also act as your own diary or online journal.

All of these sites are journaling sites that allow users to record their daily events, make notes on various things, or record original thoughts. Each of these platforms offers something special so take “note” of the features of each one to see which one you might want to look into further.

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Penzu is a popular format to record your daily observations, write down ideas you have, or record what happens. It has a unique look and resembles a real notebook paper background that makes you feel like you are writing things down in a traditional school notebook.

There are some different diary templates that you can tap into when you use Penzu for your journals. Try out any of the following models.

  • School Diary
  • Work Diary
  • Food Diary
  • Health Diary
  • Secret Diary

The school diary allows you to use Penzu for recording school events and activities and observations that you think of at school. With the notebook or paper backgrounds, these designs take you back to a time when a paper was the rule of the day. (no pun intended)

These customizable templates allow you to personalize your journal or diary in the way you want so that you can get the most out of it. Work diaries offer several options to record ideas you get at work or pen a new idea you may even want to show your boss or sales manager. The other formats allow you to record anything you want in different areas so feel free to be as creative as you want. Create poetry, keep notes on your day, or share with friends. It also allows you to have multiple diaries.

Penzu also has an app for your mobile devices so that you can update it on-the-go anytime you want. This is an excellent platform for anyone wanting to keep either a personal, school, or work journal. Also, it has “military level” privacy controls so you can feel safer with your information.

The basic version is free. You can upgrade to “Penzu Pro” for $19.99 plus per year for unlimited use and premium support. is a beautiful online journal that allows you to keep up with the things that are most important in your life through this easy-but-beautiful platform. With the premium version of this journal, you can upload your latest social media posts. Add images or videos and any other media you think would add to your posts.

It’s free to use, and you can keep your thoughts private or choose to share them with the world. Just be careful. Sometimes dogs get curious too! is a great way to put up a personal or professional journal to share your thoughts with the world. Or, if you prefer, keep them to yourself! There are several features users like about this platform. Some of the best ones are mentioned below.

  • Timeline: Allows you to view all of your entries in one place
  • All About Me: Allows you to answer hundreds of questions about your life
  • Mobile: Go mobile with the mobile features that come onboard with this journal app
  • Bookbuilder: This aspect allows you to create beautiful archival books
  • Reminders: Reminds you when it’s time to write and lets you generate writing schedules

There are several other features included in this nifty online journaling app so check it out and see what you think. It’s a great platform to start recording your hopes and dreams, complete with media in exact living color.

Goodnight Journal

This journal platform takes a straightforward approach to online journal writing. This tool is completely free and allows anyone to log on and create a journal for free. Then you can choose to keep your journal private or share it with your social media groups or the entire world.

Choose to make your journal “public” to share it with others.

Online Journal is a robust online journaling platform that allows you to record your thoughts, ideas, and observations on a beautiful background, complete with digital media that you add from your computer or other sources.

Record your ideas or get creative and write an entire short story or poem! Start any journal that you want including travel journals, personal journals, a physical fitness journal, or any journal you feel like creating.

There are a lot of therapeutic benefits to starting and maintaining a journal. These online platforms make it easy to start a journal today and keep up with it year round.

Whether you want to record those critical events in your life or start the great American novel, the sky’s the limit when it comes to recording your thoughts and feelings. Check out any of these journal sites when you get a chance to give you some inspiration or even read what others have written.

An Alternative to Journal Sites

So journaling is a great idea. We know that. It helps you to relieve some stress, allows you to express your thoughts and feelings, and records important events in your life. You can use any of the platforms we talked about in this post, or you could do something else…create a blog!

That’s right. The original blogs that were created back in 2003 were all personal journals and diaries that recorded things like family vacations and personal thoughts. It wasn’t until much later that business owners started realizing the power of keeping a blog as a way to communicate directly with their client base and address important topics that their customers want to know about.

Advantages to Starting a Blog

If you are debating on whether to keep an online journal or doing a blog instead, you may want to consider these advantages of keeping a blog.

  • Blogs allow you to have more customization and increase the level of creativity that you can incorporate into your blog. Using a blog platform like WordPress allows you even more of this creative freedom and customization. That’s because they have hundreds of templates and plugins that allow you to make your blog your own.
  • Blogs allow you to maintain ownership of your content more than a journal does. Any content that you write immediately becomes your property under common law copyright. However, it is much easier to hack an online journal system in general than it is to do so on WordPress or a secure server on which many blogs are maintained.
  • Having a blog on WordPress allows you to monetize your blog. This means that you can turn your posts and your content into money! Look into monetization options such as using YouTube or Google AdSense to generate revenue on your blog while writing about the things that matter most to you.

Journal or Blog: That is the Question!

So, which do you think is the best option for you? Using one of the online journals is nice. But if you want to get your ideas out there and promote yourself or your brand in a big way, why not just look into starting a blog on WordPress. Like a journal, it allows you to take notes on your life, post media, incorporate your social media posts, and more.

Best of all, a blog offers the kind of creative freedom and security that you will probably prefer over the long haul. It also allows you to actively build your audience and start working on building your target audience.

Look into starting a WordPress blog and see what we mean. Before long, you’ll be sharing your ideas with your adoring public.

Wait! Don’t forget to check out these related articles:

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