How To Create A Trading Journal In Excel Or Google Sheets

How To Create A Trading Journal In Excel Or Google Sheets

Day trading can be a fast-paced strategy, regardless of what you choose to trade. Most day traders place hundreds of orders during an average session and it can be difficult to keep track of all of them. 

Trading involves a lot of trial and error, therefore, it is important to learn from your mistakes and make some necessary adjustments to your strategy. However, this cannot be done without some sort of record-keeping on your behalf. 

This is where trading journals come in handy. A trading journal documents each and every transaction made by the trader, as well as their starting and ending account balances. This helps traders keep track of their performance and available capital and to determine some patterns and common mistakes in their approach to trading. 

Recording and analyzing hundreds of trades can be tiresome, which is why it is important to have a trading journal that is easy to organize so you can refer to it whenever you need. 

Traders can also make journals using Excel and Google Sheets, and while this might not be the best use of these pieces of software, it still represents an effective alternative completely free of charge. 

What Is A Trading Journal And How Is It Useful?

A trading journal is a record-keeping tool that helps traders record and manage their trades made on the stock, Forex, and crypto markets. 

A trading journal serves as a diary of sorts that helps traders keep track of their activity and to identify blindspots in their trading strategies to make necessary adjustments in the future. 

Here are a few key things traders keep on record in a trading journal:

  • Trade details - the specifics of each trade, including the name of the instruments, the volume traded, buying and selling prices, order types, gain/loss from the trade, etc.
  • Trade rationale - a brief description of the reasoning behind the trade, as well as outcome expectations juxtaposed with real results 
  • Market conditions - a detailed description of the market environment, such as trends, volatility, and any noteworthy news/events 
  • Trade outcome and lessons learned - analysis of the outcome of the trade. How much it gained/lost and what insights have been gained from the trade 
  • Post-trade analysis - a thorough review of trades once they’re closed to evaluate trades against your trading plan to see how well they fit into your trading strategy 

Trading journals give traders a bird’s eye view of their daily activity while presenting them with opportunities to make adjustments to improve their results in the long run. 

Trading Journals In Excel

Microsoft Excel is a popular software that allows users to create spreadsheets and work with data, which comes with a wide variety of features and tools to organize and analyze data. 

Excel can also be used to build a trading journal. Since most trading journals come in the shape of a table, Excel can be a very easy and useful tool for creating simple trading journals. 

Let’s look at an example of a trading journal template created in Excel. 

excel journal.png

Here we can see trades recorded by date, with intended buy and sell prices juxtaposed against the actual buy and sell prices. The journal also includes trading costs and profit/loss from each position. 

Such trading journals are easy to create and follow a simple process:

  1. Create a new workbook on Microsoft Excel 
  2. Set up a table with the desired number of columns and headers 
  3. Input headers, such as Date/Time, Order Type (Buy/Sell), Entry Price, Exit Price, Position Size, Profit/Loss, Commission/Fees, Additional Comments 
  4. Divide the table to repeat the record-keeping process each day 

This way you can keep track of your trades using a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that will take less than an hour to set up by yourself, or you could use one of the hundreds of free and paid templates available on the internet. 

You can add conditional formatting wherever necessary and input formulas for the journal to automatically calculate the amount of profit/loss from each trade by subtracting the sum of the selling price and commission from the buying price. 

Trading Journals In Google Sheets

The same can be replicated using Google Sheets. Using a Google spreadsheet can be even more handy for trade journals, as there are thousands of ready-to-use templates available that can be easily exported into Google Sheets.

Let’s look at an example of a trading journal set up in Google Sheets:

gdocs journal.png

The Google Docs journal is also quite simple and includes data, such as the symbol of the instrument, position type, entry date, strategy, time and price, trade size, exit price and time, low and high prices, and commission charges. 

However, if we wish to dive a bit deeper, we can look at the statistics that plot the performance of a trading strategy on a graph to show a clearer picture of the trajectory of the account. 

gdocs stats.png

Here we can see a more detailed look at the trading statistics that are also plotted on graphs to visualize some key metrics, such as profit and loss, average position returns, etc. 

This gives traders a better idea of the trajectory of their latest activity to set off any alarms if the curve shows a steep decline in profitability. 

Such sheets can take more time to set up on your own, but even this is not mandatory, as most trading journal templates also include trading statistics with curves and columns for you to customize and use at your own discretion. 

The process of setting up a trading journal in Google Sheets is pretty much identical to that of setting one up in Microsoft Excel and could take upwards of an hour to get up and running, or minutes to sign up for a free or paid template on the internet and use that. 

Should You Use Excel And Google Sheets For Journaling?

While Excel and Google Sheets can be easy to use as trade journals, most professional day traders stick with software made especially for journaling. These pieces of software often employ machine learning to identify patterns in your trading activity and give you feedback about where and how to improve the balance of your trades, which is not an option for Excel and Google Sheets. 

However, journaling software is typically not free and this can be a major downside for traders that are just starting out with limited capital. 


  • Easy to set up - Excel and Google Sheets are easy to use and setting up journals can only take about an hour at most 
  • No additional charges - Traders incur no additional charges for using Excel and Google Sheets as journaling software, while specialized software is typically not free 
  • Large catalog of templates - Users can choose between thousands of trading journal templates to use in Excel and Google Sheets 
  • Convenient for beginners - Beginners do not require extensive knowledge of either software to set up a table in Excel or Google Sheets and can learn how to do so with a quick Google search
  • Access from anywhere - When using Google Sheets, users can access and edit their journals anytime they have a valid internet connection


  • Lack of additional features - Excel and Google Sheets simply give traders the ability to log their trades in a table and plot data on curves, with little in the way of additional analytical features 
  • Data buildup - Individually managing spreadsheets that span hundreds of days can be cumbersome 
  • Can’t download your trading history - Professional trading journal software allows you to store your journals in the cloud and download them on your device of choice. Some trading journals also prepare reports evaluating your journal activity

Key Takeaways From How To Create A Trading Journal In Excel Or Google Sheets

  • Traders use journals to document and track their trading activities to then analyze them to make adjustments wherever necessary and improve in the long run 
  • Traders can use Excel and Google Sheets to create trading journals by building tables and plotting curves by themselves, or by using readily available journal templates on the internet
  • Journals include basic data for each trade, such as position size, date and time of the trade, buy and sell prices, order types, commission charges, and profit/loss from each trade 
  • Third-party journaling software comes with a variety of additional features that are not available through Excel and Google Sheets

FAQs On How To Create A Trading Journal In Excel Or Google Sheets

Is Google Sheets good for trading journals?

Google Sheets can be a quick and easy way of creating a trading journal that you can access from anywhere, so long as you have a valid internet connection. You can use Google Sheets to build tables and plot graphs that track your trade performance over time. 

How to create a trading journal in Excel?

Creating a trading journal in Excel is quite easy. Simply create a table and use column headings, such as entry price, exit price, profit/loss, entry date, position size, commission charges, etc. to document each of your entries. 

Are trading journals expensive?

Creating trading journals in Excel and Google Sheets is free. However, third-party journaling software can be somewhat pricey, thanks to the additional analysis tools and AI assistants some of them come with.