Organize Your Forex Trading with Trade Journal

One of the most obvious and easy ways to improve your trading results and organize the whole Forex trading process is to use a trade journal to log every trade that you make. It’s an almost unknown fact among Forex beginners, but even some experienced traders still trade without such journal. Of, course some trading styles or types of psychological characters of the traders aren’t compatible with keeping a journal, but 99% of traders may still benefit from this simple and completely free tool.
I suggest logging every trade you make in a special trade journal. It can be an Excel (or OpenOffice Calc) table or a printed table, or anything else you may find usable for logging your trades. By maintaining a journal you’ll be able to see which trades were successful and which weren’t any why. You’ll be able to improve your trading system and see your repeating mistakes. While many trading platforms (e.g. MT4) have account activity reporting feature that is useful to know your total profit/loss for the period, they don’t offer a functionality of a real trade journal.
Here is the example of a trade journal that I keep. It’s created as a Microsoft Excel table, which allows some calculation automation:

As you see there are 15 columns that I feel are required for a good trade journal:

  • # — index number of a trade. It can be either cross-journal or start anew each month. Whatever is more appealing to your trading style.
  • Date Open — date when the trade was opened. If you scalp or trade extremely short-term you may also log time when the trade was opened.
  • Strategy — here you can log the strategy/signal that was used for this trade entry. Only useful if you employ several strategies or signal services simultaneously.
  • Pair — currency pair of the trade. Quite obvious.
  • Direction — short or long.
  • Entry Price — initial rate at which the position was opened.
  • Initial Stop — stop-loss level that you’ve set when the trade was entered.
  • Initial Target — take-profit level that you’ve set when the trade was entered.
  • IRR — initial reward/risk ratio. Take-profit in pips divided by the stop-loss in pips. Your Excel/Calc table can calculate this ratio automatically.
  • Exit — rate, where your position was actually closed.
  • Date Closed — date when the trade was exited. Scalpers can also log the closing time.
  • Profit/Loss, Pips — profit or loss in pips. Your Excel/Calc table can calculate it automatically.
  • Profit/Loss, % — profit or loss in percent to the initial account balance. Logging absolute values (e.g. $120.00 profit) isn’t recommended because doesn’t tell anyone anything about the riskiness or profitability of the trade.
  • Length — length of the trade’s life. In days for normal traders and in hours, minutes or even seconds for scalpers.
  • Comment — don’t be too lazy and comment your trades to understand why have you failed or succeeded in a given moment of your trader’s career.
  • Of course, other columns can be added for even greater logging informativeness but for me those are enough. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations regarding trade journals, please, feel free to reply below.
    Update: Some traders asked me to share my trading journal table, so that they could use it to create their own trade journals. Here it is — download trade journal Excel table.
    Updated 2: One year has passed and I’ve made a major update to a trade journal. Please, read more about it here: Advanced Forex Trade Journal.

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