What Is a Trading Journal, and How Traders Keep One?


For traders, keeping a trading journal is an important activity that helps them improve their trading skills. A trading journal is a systematic record-keeping tool that is used to document trades, strategies, and outcomes. It is a way to track performance by recording the entry and exit points, the reasons for entering the trade, and the results.

This FXOpen article discusses the way traders track their progress, identify patterns, and learn from mistakes. You’ll learn about the types of trading journals and their benefits and find out exactly what to record.

Types of Trading Journals

Here are three trading journal examples. You can choose a format that works best for you, whether it’s handwritten notes in a notebook, a trading journal online spreadsheet, or a specialised app. The key is to be consistent in recording your activity.

  • Use a notebook. Simply record the details of each trade on a new page or divide the page into convenient columns.
  • Create a spreadsheet to keep track of your trades. Consider including columns for the entry and exit points, reasons, and outcomes.
  • Choose trading journal software from the multiple options available. Apps make it easy to record and analyse trades. Some popular ones include Edgewonk and Tradervue.

Benefits of Keeping a Trading Journal

Keeping a journal has several benefits. The most important thing is that by using this tool for self-analysis and learning, you can increase your chances of success in markets and make data-driven improvements. Let’s break down why it can be useful.

  • Identifying patterns. By keeping a record, you can identify patterns in your behaviour. For example, you may notice that you tend to enter trades at certain times of the day or that you have a tendency to hold losing trades for too long.
  • Learning from mistakes. If you review your losing trades, you may identify what went wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistake in the future.
  • Tracking progress. A trading journal is a way to track your progress. You can see how much you’ve improved. It’s also a means to reflect on your decisions.
  • Improving discipline. Recording your activities can help you improve your discipline. By stating the reasons for entering the trades, you hold yourself accountable for your decisions.
  • Controlling emotions. A journal can serve as a therapeutic outlet to express your thoughts and feelings. This allows you to separate your emotions from your decisions and make them more logical and reasonable.

Whether it’s a forex trading journal or one for stocks, crypto* or indices, the benefits will be the same. The usefulness of keeping a record will be self-evident.

How to Keep a Trading Journal

It’s to be expected that over time, a journal will become an invaluable resource for improving skills, minimising risk and achieving more consistent effectiveness in the financial markets. The hardest part is getting started, although keeping a journal is actually easy. Here are the five steps you can follow.

1. Choose a Format

Decide whether you want to keep a physical trading journal book, use a digital spreadsheet, or employ specialised software. Choose a format that you’re comfortable with, and that aligns with your needs. If you’re using a spreadsheet or digital document, you can create a trading journal template that includes the key information you plan to record for each trade.

2. Record Your Trades

Record the details of each trade you make. You can include the date and time, as this information is essential for tracking the timing of trades and assessing how different market conditions may affect your decision-making.

Recording your strategy or approach is a great idea. Regardless of whether it is based on technical, fundamental, or combined analysis, be sure to state your methodology. You may also want to detail the risk management techniques you used, such as stop-loss and take-profit orders. On the TickTrader trading platform, you can find various tools for risk management. After using them, you can evaluate how effectively they protected your capital.

3. Record Reasons and Your Emotional State

Consider writing down the reasons that prompted you to enter the trade. What factors or indicators influenced your decision? For example, if you prefer currencies, did you enter the trade because of a certain technical pattern or a country’s GDP report?

Documenting your emotional state before and during the trade is also important. Were you confident, anxious or fearful? An honest self-assessment of your emotions is critical to identifying emotional triggers that can influence you.

4. Review Your Trades

Think about reviewing your trades and indicating the final result — profit or loss. Be sure to write down the actual numbers so that you can accurately assess your results. When documenting your trades, it’s crucial to remain objective. Do not justify bad decisions or self-glorify successful ones. The purpose of keeping a journal is to learn and improve.

You can schedule a regular review of your trades. This can be done weekly or monthly, depending on how often you trade. During these reviews, you are likely to find patterns and identify areas for improvement.

5. Be Consistent

Consistency is key. You can develop a routine for recording trades. Make sure you thoroughly document all of them, regardless of their size or perceived importance. If it’s too difficult to do this yourself, you can use an automated trading journal. This is a great solution for those who have a hard time making habits.

Final Thoughts

Keeping records of your trades is a way to have a structured and systematic approach to monitoring and evaluating trading activity. This leads to better-informed decisions and improved performance.

By recording details of trades, strategies, emotions, results, and risk management techniques, you can gain valuable insights into your behaviour and patterns. If you want to engage in trading in over 600 markets, you can open an FXOpen account.

*At FXOpen UK and FXOpen AU, Cryptocurrency CFDs are only available for trading by those clients categorised as Professional clients under FCA Rules and Professional clients under ASIC Rules, respectively. They are not available for trading by Retail clients.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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