2......RECORD KEEPING and .........STATISTIC Spreadsheets

A goal without a plan is just a dream

Keeping records and statistics is a CRITICAL aspect of trading...

Not only to be aware of what you have accomplished but to help you to grow 

and adapt to changes into the future.  

Keeping records and statistics is also the most tedious part of trading
Ignoring your statistics will lead you to ruin

IMO, trading is all about understanding the numbers. Over the long term, your win-loss ratio will probably approach 50-50 which is no better than tossing darts, letting a monkey pick your trades or flipping a coin. BUT even if you consistently win only 2 of 4 trades you can still be very profitable.
 Understanding your statistical results can help you enhance the odds of being profitable.

Even incremental improvement to things like Win/loss ratios or $ Won-vs-$ lost per trade 
make huge differences. That's where keeping true records comes into play. Learn to know how they can help, for example -- understand why you can win only 1 trade out of 3, yet still not lose your shirt...
Example #1
Example #2

You will  never "know" which trades will work.
For most of us who don't work off inside info, trading is a simple numbers game...
Feel will improve your winning/losing odds to well above 50% over time.
 Managing your stops and targets will allow for a positive bottom line... Attempt to take out 2.5 to 3 times
 more on the winning trades than what your stops give back. For example: 
Even with a only a 50% win/loss ratio, on every 100 trades taken:
Winning $60 on 50% of them grosses +$3000
....Losing $20 on 50% of them grosses -$1000 
............................. Nets you a positive +$2000
 (less after including commissions of course)

Trade management, Money management and Statistics management ALL come into play in this business.
There are a multitude of ways that each can be useful for enhancing your trading bottom line.

It's ALL up to you

In addition to using something similar to the spreadsheets that are presented further below, I recommend that you maintain a Trading Notes Log (daily/weekly/monthly) to record your current thoughts and observations. This entire blog is my personal Trading Log , a Blog-Log if you will.
Besides scanning countless stock charts, reading market news and of course day trading, everything described on this page is faithfully, habitually adhered to...Everything is done so that I can review 

"where I was" and focus intelligently on planning "where I want to be"

I firmly believe in keeping statistics of my trading. IMO, over the long haul, trading is all about the numbers. Keeping and analyzing statistics of things like; your frequency of trades, the percentage of winning vs losing trades, average gain on winners vs average loss on losers are just some of the necessary ingredients for understanding whether or not your methodologies are working.

Although these things are reflected on every brokerage statement you receive, statements basically

report just your account's net gain or loss which is useful only after a significant period of time. 
 By the time your accumulated statements can tell you something may be amiss with your trading 
you could be well on your way to going broke.

I am very serious about the need to keep accurate records.

In order to profit, whether you are long or short term oriented, you must win more money on the winning trades or investments than on the losers. This may seem like such an obvious statement that it should be the only thing that matters. I've come to understand that there exists a myriad of other factors that contribute to those who are successful in this endeavor.
Attempting to learn from mentors, from reading "How I Did It" books (this blog included) 

or any other way only begins to enlighten an aspiring trader.

Winning Trade Percentages - why statistics must be analyzed 

Perhaps you've read the books that describe Win/Loss ratios where the idea is suggested that most successful traders pick winning trades 7 out of 10 times or perhaps 6 out of 10 times. I've read that there are successful traders who consistently win only 4 of 10 trades. Other traders have been successful winning with only a 30% win percentage...Although it is statistically possible to gain account equity with low percentages. it must be very stressful on the low percentage trader, especially after a string of losing trades.

You have to be aware that even if you have a strategy that produces a good winning trade percentage, you still must gain more on the winners than you lose on the losers to come out ahead... not only to cover commissions but to cover all the other day-to-day operating expenses a trader incurs.

My statistics indicate that over the long term including thousands of trades, a winning trade percentage of 54% to 59% is about my average range per month. In the long term, if my winning trade percentage averages in the low 50% range, in order to continue in this line of work and be profitable, I must maintain a $Won/$Lost ratio of at least 2 1/2 to 1...that is, a ratio 2 to 3 ticks won for every 1 tick lost. I need to maintain a positive $Won/$Lost ratio and keep my winning trade percentage above 50.

Ideally you want one winning trade to capture more $$$ than it takes to cover the losses from two losing trades. Then all you need to do is get your winning trade percentage to rise...If 75% or 90% of your trades are winners then you can probably just look at your account balance once in a while to tell if you are successful.
Otherwise, you need to keep track of your trading by constantly monitoring all the numbers.

Simple Spreadsheets

The following are snapshots of a single spreadsheet combining five workbooks that I've developed 
for compiling and analyzing my futures trading statistics.

The spreadsheet for keeping Equities and ETFs statistics is different and can be viewed via this link.

I track Daily (workbook 1) and Monthly (workbook 2) trading activity to gather and compare my statistics over time. I created a Projection Sheet (workbook 3) that is used to extrapolate potential results using the numbers compiled in the first two sheets. Of course you can't forget uncle Sam so a Schedule D tax form (workbook 4) is included. And finally a combined Per-Contract and NET Amounts (workbook 5) completes the set.

The formulas for all the cells are included should you wish to create your own. The next five workbooks are part of a single spreadsheet and were created using freeware Apache software (download link at the bottom of this page) . I'm sure other vender's software will allow you to do the same thing.

Note: I have made some changes to my spreadsheets since uploading the following pictures to this blog, back in 2013... Click this link for a snapshot of my current 2017 Daily Win-Loss Workbook. 

1)   Daily Win-Loss Workbook (Trade Log) - Futures
This is the main workbook - it gets filled out daily. 
Note : Notice the tabs along the bottom of the workbook pictured above...
An advantage to creating a single spreadsheet with multiple workbooks is the ability to "link" data from one workbook to another. I've designed this spreadsheet so that only the cells in columns 'A' through 'G' need to be filled out - columns ' I ' through 'O' on this workbook are automatically updated, as are any "linked" cells in the other workbooks.
2)  Monthly Statistics Workbook - Futures
All cells are "linked" so they automatically update when filling in the Daily Win-Loss workbook. 

3)  Projection Sheet Workbook - Futures
Used to see where I've been and where I can improve. Changing the values in the yellow cells produces
 the results in the blue cells (the cell formulas are included on the picture).
4) Tax form Workbook
Updated daily or weekly so as not to get too far behind. 
Who needs to pay an accountant?

(5) Additional Simple Workbook
This one is used to get an idea of what to expect when 1) changing the market traded...2) changing the bracket order levels used...and/or 3) changing the number of contracts traded...

The top picture has the same numbers inserted for the 4 markets that I trade.
 The bottom one shows differing numbers inserted in the Stop-Loss, Target and contracts cells.

05/25/2015... I updated the workbook above to include how NET dollar amounts are affected by Win/Loss percentages, by bracket settings and by the number of contracts traded.

The Net Dollar Amounts part illustrates that you need to take 2X as many contracts per trade with the YM and NQ to NET about the same return as a single contract with the  RUT and ES.
You can also see the big role that commissions play on your bottom line.

 The cell fomulars are shown on the pic below...

Another look at the Projection Sheet

I've adjusted just the numbers for Contract $ Per TICK and Ave. #of ticks WON per contract (yellow cells) to get similar sets of results for each contract's Net Gain (blue cells - weekly, monthly and yearly). The results in the blue cells indicate that trading the ES or RLM might be more advantageous than trading the YM or NQ. 

In order to get similar bottom line results when trading the different markets :
YM & NQ - you need to average 15 ticks won vs. 4 ticks lost per trade or a 3.8 -to-1 ratio
RLM - you need to average 9 ticks won vs. 4 ticks lost per trade or a 2.3-to-1 ratio 
ES - you need to average 8 ticks won vs. 4 ticks lost per trade or a 2.0-to-1 ratio


Other Tools and recommendations:

Capture pictures of your Trades

I consider taking snapshots of my trades an essential part of my record keeping. I recommend that you capture a picture of every trade you take, each and every day...I have been doing this for years.
This may seem as though it would be a major hassle or distraction, a task that you would rather do without. But I'm telling you that it can work wonders for advancing your trading skills by providing important feedback and insights that you might otherwise overlook. 

All my daily trade chart pictures are available for viewing on Sharpshorts Daily Trade Results ...

I capture a picture of every trade I make (it takes less than a second* as well as those of other charts that I find interesting or important. At the end of the day they are reviewed, renamed and filed by date (see the picture below) 

All of this is simple to do and takes an inconsequential amount of time to accomplish. 

In addition to the benefits mentioned above I have further reasons for doing this: 
1) For keeping track of gains and losses for filling out my Daily Trade Log
2) A quick way to review the day's action after market hours 
3) An easy way of reviewing good and bad trading days  and methodologies
4) To keep visual records that are accessible weeks, months or years later 

This is a terrific free program which allows you to: 
1) capture a chart image, 2) name it, 3) save to file instantly
 using just a single click of the mouse. 

It is similar to Microsoft's Snipping Tool or PrintScreen-copy-to-clipboard but you need not contend with filling out the properties windows each time you elect to take a picture.  All of the pictures on this blog were captured with Gadwin PrintScreen.
The Gadwin program can be set up to save, date and number your screenshots to any folder you designate or create. You can have Gadwin re-size any snapshot taken and choose to have it's aspect ratio kept. It can be quickly reconfigured to take snapshots of just the window that's in focus, of any client window (including an entire array of multiple monitors), of the full screen (an individual monitor) or of a drag-able rectangular area.
(... add'l link to Gadwin Properties set-up...)

Sept 2015 NOTE:: Gadwin's 4.7 version is no longer available through their website. Their most recent freeware version has some additional features over 4.7 but does not include a 'one click' snapshot of just the window that is in focus.  
PrintScreen 4.7 freeware is still available via up-to-down's website . Both the new and older versions can be installed and operated at the same time without conflicts...set each version up to use a different keyboard or mouse button but have the capture folder the same for both...

I set the 4.7 version to snap just a single chart window and the 5.4.2 version to snap 
all the stuff that's on an entire monitor. I also use M/S's Snipping tool 
for capturing any sized rectangular area, of anything I can see on any of my monitors.

Gadwin 4.7

Gadwin 5.4.2.................................................................................Snipping Tool

Snapshot Management

The left hand folder is where all the pictures go during the day - automatically named and saved.
 The other folders are where I move them after reviewing and renaming. I do this each market day when I'm done trading for the day. 

Freeware Office Programs

The Apache download site offers an alternative to Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet and Word programs - - FREE

I had been using Microsoft's suite of office programs since at least 2001. Recently I built a new computer and wanted to have the same set of programs on the new machine that I had been using on the old one. Rather than spending the $100 plus to purchase a new license from Microsoft, I downloaded  Apache's Open Office program and transferred all my existing Word documents and Excel spreadsheets to it. Can't beat the price and I have found nothing lacking with Apache's product.

Start a blog as your personalized trading log

They are free,  are easy to set up and simple to edit.

Everything that I have posted on this blog could also be done using a word processing program...but keeping a blog on Google's cloud offers a lot of benefits over storing all your stuff on your own machine.

Blogs can be set up to be published (available to the public) or can be strictly private and unpublished...You can choose to publish some pages while keeping others private.

Maintaining a blog is a terrific way to consolidate your trading records and thoughts in one place - it makes you "place your ideas down on paper" which reinforces them the the mind's eye, i.e. the subconscious. You learn to write in a manor that is coherent and concise. These things are important tools for developing reasonable analyzation skills and for coming to important conclusions about your trading skills.

You may find that maintaining a Blog-Log helps to turn on that light inside of you...

You may know certain things are true but can only express a feeling about why they are true.

Keeping a Blog-Log can cause such things to become much clearer.