Trading Journal Spreadsheet

Should You Use a Trading Journal Spreadsheet?

Every professional trader knows that journaling is important for tracking your progress and improving your strategies. Traditionally, traders would keep a diary of their trades. In today’s world, you can keep a trading journal on your computer by using an app like Google Sheets or a trading journal software. Some traders use the former, while others prefer the latter. So which option should you go with? In this post, we’ll examine whether you should use a trading journal spreadsheet or an online trading journal.

Table of Contents

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What You Should Include in Your Trading Journal

Before we answer the question of whether you should use a trading journal spreadsheet, here is a quick reminder of what generally goes into a journal.

Whether you use a spreadsheet, an online trading journal, or just a good old notebook, there are multiple data points you need to record for each trade. You already know most if not all of them, but as a reminder, let’s go over them: 

  • Date
  • Symbol
  • Entry price
  • Position size
  • Stop loss
  • Target
  • Side (long/short)
  • Exit price
  • Profit
  • Commissions and fees
  • Notes
  • Anything else you consider to be relevant

Depending on your trading style, you might want to add other indicators, statistics, and notes, like the strategy used or the type of option, etc.

Should You Use a Trading Journal Spreadsheet?

It is true that many professional traders use spreadsheets to track their trades. A well-constructed spreadsheet can run several calculations and provide clarity about your performance.

However, there’s more to trading than the numbers. You should also consider the cons of making and using a trading journal spreadsheet. So we’ll go over the challenges and limitations you might encounter if you decide to use a spreadsheet as your trading journal.

Trading journals spreadsheets are hard to create

If you want to create your own trading journal on Google Sheets, you have to manually create and format all the relevant input fields.

Additionally, you need to write formulas and functions for calculating statistics. They can be rather complex, so making sure everything is correct might prove tricky and time-consuming.

Even if you find a template for a Google Sheets trading journal somewhere, you’ll likely still need to make some edits so that it perfectly fits your needs and preferences.

Either way, you will have to add your trade history manually and make sure not to make mistakes in the process.

Trading Journal Spreadsheet Issues

Spreadsheets provide little space for taking notes

Writing down your thoughts and feelings is crucial for understanding your performance as well as your trading psychology. There’s so much you can—and should—include in your notes:

  • Your thought process for making a trade
  • How you were feeling
  • Whether you followed your rules
  • What actually happened in the market
  • Why you ended up being right or wrong
  • What you could have done differently
  • Mental traps and biases you should watch out for in the future
  • Etc.

Reviewing these notes later helps you understand your mistakes, evaluate the effectiveness of your systems, and make better decisions in the future.

However, writing detailed notes in one cell (and comment) for each trade forces you to use a minimum of words, which limits your capacity to review and analyze what you did. After all, spreadsheets are better suited for structured data than paragraphs of text.

Risk of losing data

Everyone can remember a time when Excel froze or crashed, causing a loss of data. Similarly, sometimes Google Sheets may fail to autosave your recent edits due to a slow or unstable internet connection. You are also never totally safe from a bug of some sort. And having to input data again is frustrating and time-consuming.

So these are the potential issues you may run into when keeping a trading journal spreadsheet. If you know your way around Excel and/or Google Sheets, and you want to build a highly customized and dynamic spreadsheet, this is a viable route to take. But before that, you might want to learn more about the advantages of using an online trading journal.

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Why You Should Use an Online Trading Journal

You might be wondering: why use an online journal when there are free cloud apps like Google Sheets?

Well, there are multiple advantages that make an online trading journal a worthwhile investment. Granted, a trading spreadsheet can certainly help you track your trades, but what you can do with an online journal goes far beyond that.

No setting up needed

If you decide to use a trading journal software, you won’t have to search for a trading journal template on Google Sheets/Excel or create one from scratch. All you have to do is upload your trade history, most often in the form of a CSV file, and that’s it. No need to write complex functions or follow long YouTube tutorials.

Instead, your trading journal will instantly calculate all the key metrics you typically track: P&L, win percentage, average volume, average winning or losing trade, maximum drawdown, average position MAE, and more.

Tradervue Dashboard Screen

An online journal analyzes your data for you

Pre-built analysis tools do the hard work for you. In addition to the aforementioned trading metrics, you can review charts and graphs, some of which can be hard or even impossible to recreate on a spreadsheet.

These charts and graphs are organized into different reports and automatically generated from your data. Think price charts, P&L charts, the distribution of your performance by day of week, etc. As you can guess, it’s possible to change the time frames in a few clicks to see how the charts change and what insights you might glean from that.

Tradervue Overview Reports

Overall, visualizing data makes it easier to spot trends, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and identify your edge in the market. In fact, we have barely scratched the surface of what can be done with the analysis tools available in a trading journal. But it should be clear by now how easy and insightful a first-rate trading journal can be versus a simple spreadsheet.

Make in-depth notes

As explained above, a spreadsheet gives you little space for writing notes. Contrast with online trading journals which have advanced note-taking features. You have plenty of room to write in-depth notes; you can even attach images—like screenshots—to a note.

Tradervue Trade Note

Additionally, you can add tags to your trades. A tag can be a symbol (AAPL), security type (stock, options etc. ) side (long, short), strategy (momentum, breakout) support or resistance, and pretty much anything you see as relevant. Tagging your trades lets you filter them easily as well as identify possible patterns within trades that share the same tag.

This freedom to write notes that are as detailed as you want, and categorize them in ways that make them easy to review and analyze, will help you understand a lot more than just your performance.

Gain a better understanding of your emotions

Humans are emotional by nature and often act in irrational ways. We are all influenced by fear, hope, and other feelings, most of the time without being aware of them. Understanding how these feelings affect your decision-making is important for trading success. That is because awareness of your emotional state during trading allows you to avoid costly mistakes. And keeping a journal plays a key role in understanding not just your emotions, but also your bad habits, biases, and other pitfalls that hurt your performance.

You should always ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I tend to engage in revenge trading?
  • Was I careless here because of euphoria?
  • Did I overreact to this news?

By using the analysis tools at your disposal and writing thoughtful notes consistently, you will learn so much about yourself, your habits—good and bad, and how your feelings affect your trading decisions. This introspective knowledge can only be attained through thoughtful writing, and a spreadsheet is not the best place for it.

Share your trades and notes

With the right online journal, you can share your trades and notes easily with other traders, including your coach if you have one. Sharing trades (both winners and losers) opens the door for comments and feedback that broaden your perspective.

Tradervue Community

This is one of the main features of Tradervue. You choose which trades to share with other users without displaying sensitive information like your P&L and share volume. Additionally, you can see the shared trades of other users and compare notes with those trading the same symbols as you. This is a great opportunity to learn something new from every trader.

In Conclusion

Admittedly, using a trading journal spreadsheet works just fine for some traders, but with an online trading journal, you can do a lot more than monitoring values and statistics. You can generate instant reports to conduct technical analysis, record new trades, make detailed notes, and share them with other traders to exchange ideas.

Tradervue is built to do all of this. It’s accessible from your browser, so there’s no need to download and install anything, or spend time writing complex formulas. You just import your trades from your broker and can then start analyzing your data and making notes. You can sign up either for a Basic Plan, which is free, or for a 7-day free trial of one of our premium plans. This way, you’ll explore the capabilities of Tradervue without paying upfront (no credit card information required).

Improve Your Trading Performance with Tradervue

Record your trades, analyze your performance, and share your notes to refine your trading strategies and consistently increase your profits.

Try it free for 7 days

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