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What format do you keep your journal?

  1. 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. 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. Manrico,
    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.
  7. - 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Access is my way to go...
  10. too bad, you can always delete yourself from that community after you download the spread sheet. The way he use Execl to keep a jounal is very innovative.
  11. I keep my journal in Word.

    When opening a trade:
    Stock Buy/Short. Price
    Reason for entry.

    When closing a trade:
    Stock Sell/Cover. Price
    Reason for exit.
    P/L after commissions.

    I then save a bitmap of the chart for each trade and make notes on it. This is saved in a separate file. I then hyperlink to each chart with the corresponding trade in my word files.

    I try to keep up with it during the day but sometimes if I'm trading a lot I'll leave it until the end of the day.

    At the end of the day i write a quick review of my performance for future reads at the end of the week/month. it also helps sometimes to read the previous days journal before starting to trade in the morning.
  12. nkhoi:
    I took you up on your offer and downloaded the spreadsheet. Innovative work certainly. I will see what I can incorporate into what I am doing. Thanks for the response.

    I like the idea of saving charts into a separate file then hyperlinking the charts in your word files. Presently, I am pasting my charts into word which create very large documents by the end of the month. One question for you (or maybe two): do you print your journal out weekly/monthly? and if so, do you print out the charts as well?

    greydeath101, easyguru and DEM:
    Thanks a million for your responses. I am new to posting here, as you can see, and am just fasinated that others would respond to my questions. It's like a little kid discovering the corner candy store.

    DEM and Manrico:
    Would you be willing to send me a template (empty of course) of your Access db? I am curious as to how much work would be involved in creating this type of db. I have Access and even tried creating a db for transactions but did not feel up to the task. I would rather hire someone to create it for me...if too much of a pain or feeling uncomfortable about the request, no worries.
  13. @keeda

    Have a look at the picture, it shows my database.

    In the upper third I have a eod chart and a 60 min chart, that show my entry- and exitpoint.
    The numbers are in the middle (entry, management, exit).
    the rest is filled by a huge text-field, where I can put all my thoughts,... in.

    If you are interested in the database, send me a private message.

  14. here is the pic...

  15. I don't print my journal or charts at all. Everything do is on my PC. Now if only I could get it to make my dinner and open a bottle of wine I'd be one happy camper.

    PS It helps if you have 2 monitors as you can be reading your journal on 1 monitor while popping up the hyperlinked chart on another.
  16. I don't keep a journal, but I do an in-depth review (nothing is written down) of all my decisions after the close... mistake recognition and the better decisions of the day are reinforced by this nightly review...
  17. Keeda,

    Here is a screen print of the trade entry window. All grayed fields are either calculated or pre-specified (e.g., minimum reward/risk ratio). The top part of the window is for modeling: calculate number of shares to be traded based on how much capital I want to invest and risked. This would only only be used for infrequently traded stocks.

    The Date/Time button simply fills in the current date and time so it doesn't have to be typed in. Obviously this only works if entering the trade info close to real time. The codes on the lower right are all pick from list or enter the first letter only. The Complete This Trade button moves the record to another table from which all the statistical reports are produced.

    I'm reluctant to give you the database only because really is just cobbled together, I'm definitely an amateur at Access. Parts of it don't work well. If you're going to get it done professionally you'd be much better off just giving the developer a marked up version of the screen print. Send me an e-mail if you really want the database.

    I'm probably going to incorporate some of the ideas others have presented in this thread. What I have here is a trade journal. I can see the need for a separate day journal to record things like Fed announcements, general market actions, etc.
  18. candeltrader:
    Its an honor to read your reply to my post. Thank you. Don't keep a journal huh? I am not that advanced yet. Tried that when I started trading. I learned that I need to develop some type of consistency and review myself over time. Consistency is one of my faults as a trader and the journal process helps to instill that regularity. Still, from time to time I miss entries (my main reason for trying to get efficient). But I am curious and very interested about your in-depth review of all your decisions after close...I talk to myself ALL the time and this method of yours probably is more in sync with my personality. As a matter of fact, I usually have the best conversations with myself ( :) -- borderline crazy?). would you mind shooting me a PM of the review process (questions, how you go about reinforcement, etc) if it is not too much trouble? If not too personal or lengthy, post it here.

    thanks again. I have multiple monitors so what you suggested is not a problem. I love being digital and always gravitate towards solutions which allow this.

    DEM: nice DB setup. I like, I like.
  19. Manrico,

    The top half of your db I already implement in excel, although I usually clear out the info as a new trade is being pondered. This is of course only done on the days where I have less than say 6 trades. On days where I make as many as 30 trades I find that updating this type of db is almost impossible in real time. I could be in and out of a trade then on to the next before I got to the target Entry Price field.

    The remaining parts of your db are being completed through post analysis from transaction reports which are manipulated in excel and written trade analysis in word. I like what you have though. Very much so. It creates a record of your pre/post analysis in db form. This provides more structure for a person who has a hard time creating it for himself in such an unlimited environment. I will certainly shoot you a PM. Thanks!
  20. Yes, I talk to myself (sub-vocalisation) at the end of the trading day... I get up my charts for all the trades I did and ask myself whether I had got in at the optimal time (even if I was stopped out)... I also ask myself if I juiced profits appropriately (basically, the review of entrys and exits is an assessment of whether things like fear and greed got in the way)... in addition to going over my own trades, I have a look at some of the other trades of the day that were good and that I didn't take... for me, the evening review process is a means of making sure my decision-making abilities are not slipping and is also a way of keeping in touch with bigger picture market issues, such as the daily charts of the indices, and awareness of any forthcoming events which may impact the market etc etc...
  21. Hi DEM, when I tried your hyper-link I found:

    Whoops - Seite nicht gefunden!
    Die Seite auf die Sie zugreifen wollen wurde nicht gefunden.
    Mögliche Gründe für diesen Fehler sind

    Could you please repost?


    ALSO to all the other posts, thanks a lot for sharing your ideas as I'm building a journal format from all.
  22. @Maxito

    I did not get feedback from anybody, so I stopped offering the file...

  23. I would like to see your journal, I am interested in how you manipulated Access like that.