Theory: Trade Logs

Theory: Trade Logs
Photo by Jan Kahánek / Unsplash

Well, we spend so much time working on our trading systems, on when to enter, exit, move stop losses, take profits, etc., etc. but how much time do we spend reviewing trades we have placed?

I dare say many of us (me included at times) kind of forget about this part of the process, especially when you are on a series of profitable trades, the last thing you are thinking about is looking back at past trades.

... the irony is, if you are using any type of indicator in your trading system, you are actually trading the present based on the past ... so why shouldn't you review your trades in the same way? ...

A lot of traders only bother thinking about the past when things start going wrong, and usually, it is something like "Ah yes, I remember back when I used to make money from the markets ... those were the days ..."

So why should we bother looking back, living in the past so to speak? Aren't we supposed to be living in the present, looking to the future?

The irony is, if you are using any type of indicator in your trading system, you are actually trading the present based on the past, as all indicators take past data, compare it to present conditions, apply some odd formula like x+y/2*45 + your dog's age - your height, and then draw a squiggly line or an arrow of some sort based on that historical data.

So why shouldn't your review your trades in the same way?

The simplest and easiest method of keeping track of how things have gone, and how they are going is through a trading log of some sort.

There are many ways you can do this, you could simply just write your trades on paper, keep them in a spreadsheet, or simply add comments to your trades if your trading platform allows it, and print out a monthly report.

Whichever way you do it, the important thing to ensure is that what you put in your log is useful, so let's look at that.

So what should we include? Well, I can only speak for myself, but here are things I have contained in a simple excel spreadsheet, with an explanation of why I include them:

  1. Open date
    This is the date that trade was opened, useful if you want to look back and see if you are more successful on one day than others.
  2. Open time
    The exact time of the trade, like above, to see if your trades a more successful during different times of the day. You could use this to see if you trade better in a certain session, such as Asia, Europe, or the US sessions. I used this to notice my strategy worked great during the Europe and US session but performed miserably during the Asian session, which brought me to adjust things, and now things are much better.
  3. Mood
    Never underestimate the power your mood can have on your trades. Write it down and be honest, you can then look to see if you have more success trading when you are happy, sad, angry, tired, alert, or constipated (I don't trade well-constipated trust me ;).
  4. Pair
    Of course, keeping track of what currency pair you trade will soon identify your favorites, your most profitable, and your most hated.
  5. Direction
    Long or short, you may be surprised by which one you favor more, for example, last month 83% of my trades were short!
  6. Open price
    The price you opened your trade, is a basic thing to keep track of.
  7. Stop loss
    Very useful to see what your stop loss-to-wins ratio is. If you are finding your wins are much smaller than the potential stop losses, it may keep you aware that a string of losses could wipe you out, so some adjustments may be needed with either riding the trade longer, adjusting your entries, or tightening your stop losses.
  8. Take profit
    As per above.
  9. Close price
    The price you closed your trade at, is useful to see what your average winner versus average loser is.
  10. Closed date
    I like to keep track of these to see how long I am keeping my trades and what it means for profits or losses.
  11. Closed time
    Again, useful to see if there is a certain time of day you seem to be closing your trades at the most, are you closing them cause you are tired and it is late at night for example?
  12. Balance
    What you made on that trade, if it is a profit, make it nice, big, and green, visual reward can really be satisfying and a good motivator.
    Can be potentially the most useful part, be honest with yourself, and jot down anything about the trade you liked or didn't like. Some people will only focus on the things they did wrong in a trade, but be sure to put things you did right as well, as they are just as useful if not more so for future trades.

So that is how I keep track of my trades, while it takes a little effort, it really is worth the trouble, and your trading will benefit from it.

Remember though! look back on it, no use keeping your trades logged but never looking at it. The markets are closed over the weekend, so that is a good time to have a quick look through and ready your mind for the upcoming week.

Ok, I have attached a sample trading log for you all, it is a simple, unformatted excel spread but it might help someone.

If anyone is good with programming excel, you can program the balance, etc. to update by themselves, and please, if you make improvements, let me know so we can share it with everyone at

Download the sample trade log >>