What format do you keep your journal?

Discussion in 'Trading' started by keeda, Mar 16, 2002.

  1. keeda


    I am interested in knowing the format traders keep their journals. I am looking for ideas to become more efficient at keeping notes about myself and my trading. I am more inclined to be electronic as I have the tendency to collect massive amounts of paper. All ideas are welcome. I have been tinkering with different formats for a while and would like to get some feedback from others. So:

    Do you keep your journal in a notebook/leather binder type [handwritten] or the electronic/pc type, or perhaps some other?

    Are you using some type of trade prep/management worksheets during the trading day which you transfer the information to your journals later?

    Also, are you updating your journal in realtime or is it only after the market closes?

    Finally, if you keep the electronic/pc type of format, are you using a separate pc other than the machine you trade on?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. For a variety of reasons I won't get into, I'm in a prolonged start-up stage so I'm not exactly an authority on matters of trading. However this is a topic I feel very strongly about so I thought I'd post reply. In my management consulting business I'm often harping to clients about the benefits of managing through the use of Key Performance Indicators, i.e., important statistics. For me at least I'm absolutely sure that it will be a factor in improving performance. Of course net profit is the ultimate performance indicator but I know that, by itself, it won't help me improve my performance.

    The only way to get meaningful statistics is to keep an automated log. I've cobbled together a MS Access database to record every trade. Included are data like:

    - Target exit point and initial stop position.

    - Entry and exit times (3 each per trade to handle fade in/out situations).

    - Shares traded and prices on entries and exits.

    - Reason codes for why I'm making the trade. (E.g., break out from channel, bottom of a pull back.)

    - Codes to describe what happened upon entry. (E.g., went the way I expected, went the wrong way and reversed before hitting the stop.)

    - Codes to describe what happened on exit. (E.g., too early, right time, too late, hit stop, bailed before hitting stop.)

    With all this data in coded, automated form, it will be very easy to extract meaningful performance indicators. Being coded also means it's very quick to enter the data relating to a trade.

    I don't know yet what performance indicators will be most useful. My plan is to pump out many kinds and study them at the end of each day/week/month. I can easily see how indicators like average gain per share (winning trades) compared to average loss per share (losing trades) will be very enlightening.

    I also don't know whether this database will be updatable as I'm actually making the trades. I suspect that I'll keep a temporary paper log and transfer it in during lunch or at the end of the day.

    I'm sure that the database, and my use of it, will evolve over time.
  3. tntneo

    tntneo Moderator

    also, it might be an idea to add notes :

    - what was the market action like (tape, level II, T&S whatever you may look at).

    - how you felt in and out of the trade. when your emotions are causing you to fail, it's very good to be aware of what emotion does what to your trading.

    - a measure of how well you implemented your plan. a trade is not bad if you follow your plan and it did not work. it is bad if you did not keep the discipline (with profit or loss, it does not matter!).

  4. Hopefully someone will take the time to upload (attachment) templates of their journal.

    This way you can download it for your use and change some of the wording to customize it for the financial instruments your trading.

    Good luck and good night.

    Nihaba Ashi
  5. I think it is important to also record general market conditions for each trading day, plus any unusual factors such as Fed meetings. It is very useful to be able to refer back to how the market acted or reacted on Fed days and in response to important data such as monthly jobs data. If you are keeping a journal recording each trade, it would be very helpful to have a screen print of the chart at the time of each trade and exit.
  6. nkhoi

    nkhoi Moderator

  7. keeda


    Thanks for your candor and ideas. I like the "codes" idea. That will certainly cut down on the amount of writing/typing that I would have to do during the trading day. The Access part, well, I don't feel like coding a db to get it to my perfection. I use mainly Word and Excel to accomplish the same thing. Less efficient, yes, but it gets the job done. Let's just say that I try to do the least amount of work for the greatest possible gain. In other words, I AM LAZY!!!

    What I have decided on at present is creating a daily worksheet template for note taking as the day is progresses. The question still remains whether I will use a separate pc/laptop or a printed sheet of paper during the market day. Knowing me I will try both methods to see which works more efficient.

    tntneo and AAAintheBeltway:
    Thanks for your suggestions. I will incorporate your ideas as well into my present journal. I have always enjoyed the information you have posted to this site. Please keep up the Great work in helping others. I look forward to returning the favor.

    I am familiar with mtrader's (Gimmie's) trading journal and have used that for ideas in my present system. The other link to msn, I did not feel like signing up so I did not get to see that excel journal. I try to use discretion when signing up for different "communities" -- they are all heavy marketing machines. I have search Google extensively (subject: trading journals) looking for efficient methods and new ideas to better myself. What I find is that the subject of trading journals are a very personal and particular to the individual.

    Yes, a template would be nice. I am great at copying others. They say that copying is the sincerest form of flattery but as mentioned above, the journal tends to be very personal and particular. It is one of the trader's EDGES, and not many would be so willing to show all. I respect that fully!

    To all:
    I am still interested to hear from others whether you update you journals during the market day or is it only after the market closes? Don't be bashful.
  8. - Updated after the bell.
    - Kept on MS WORD

    1. Date, # of trades, day's P/L
    2. Short mention of days trend and major news if any
    3. Mention of stock, what it and I were doing relative to the market and indicators before/during/and after including entry/exit price and/or P/L.
    4. Chart of stock, which has been ripped from my charting software, drawn on in MS Paint or something like it and then pasted.
    5. Repeat for all stocks. I only trade 5 to 10 times a day so doing up charts is no big deal.

    - At the end of the month, I print out Journal.
    - Read it, make comments and then type corrections and comments back in Word including an end of month summary of performance.

    I don't use TA very much but pasting on charts really helps me to review my trades as well as my mistakes. Otherwise, without the charts the trades become a big blur 1-4 weeks later.
  9. I use two journals one is in the TC2000 where along with the graph I put in my comments. This helps as I can sort it by dates.

    The other journal is more about trading ideas and lesson.
    Update through out the day and end of day.
  10. DEM


    Access is my way to go...
    #10     Mar 19, 2002