Reminiscences of a ladder reader.

Caution: Possible rambling article written after work ahead:

When I was at Axia, learning to trade in the Futures space, my mentor Reg [Rich Bailey] said something to me that didn’t quite register at the time. He said that the way you trade now won’t necessarily end up being the way you trade in the future, or words to that effect. At the time I was a raw newbie; a chart-following guy looking for simplistic reversals and swings and not realising until a while afterwards that this approach wasn’t for me at all.

As many of the people who are reading this (my family and friends especially) will know, I have autism and attention deficit disorder. I need to be mentally occupied at all times, but by the same token, being around people in an enclosed space for a long period of time is physically and mentally tiring for me. When working on the course, I found very quickly that the pace of thin markets such as the FDAX suited me, my personality and my attention span. I can’t bear the thought of waiting all day for a small opportunity and locking on to order flow makes me feel busy even at times when the market is printing. To that end, I was able to grind out reasonable results more often than not by looking for small momentum shifts within the ladder. It didn’t occur to me at the time that this perhaps could have been the ‘edge’ I was looking for. I made (and still do) a lot of round turns, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing that; the commissions are your own cross to bear and nobody else’s, and you need to take ownership of them – though this is contrary to what you’ll read in many places on the Internet; they may ‘hurt’ your end result but there’s no point in fighting against what suits you for the purposes of a perceived benefit of playing in someone else’s position because it’ll never work.

I have a working knowledge of technical analysis (as you’ll see from my Twitter postings and other articles) but it’s not what I’m about and it’s not necessarily what I enjoy doing every day. I guess the point I’m driving at (badly) here is that you need to find your niche and get the most out of it.

Free daily and weekly trading journal formats for Evernote.

It’s important to keep a trading journal to keep a close eye on your progress as a trader. For that reason, I’ve created some daily and weekly sheet templates for Evernote. I use these to record everything I do in a uniform way. Feel free to customise them to your own needs or to use them as an inspiration for your own layouts:

If you have any suggestions or ideas for how these could be improved, feel free to share them. Good luck.

Automated journaling with MQL4 and Evernote.

Keeping a journal in Evernote is something that has been drummed into me by my trading mentors. I trade automatically for the most part now, but I still want to know what has affected the markets and how my algorithms are doing. Although it’s simple enough to plug MT4 into MyFXBook or similar, it’s nice to be able to put together your own notes. In this example I’ll show you how to create a basic note using MQL4, though similar concepts will work in other systems that support emailing.

What you’ll need…

  • Your Evernote email address, which I’ll explain how to find shortly.
  • MT4 (for this example, you can do something similar in any other trading software that supports emailing).
  • Some basic MQL4 knowledge.

My Evernote email address; What’s that?

Evernote allows you to push notes to your journal via email, although this very useful feature isn’t particularly well advertised in my opinion. To find your Evernote email address, you’ll need to log into your account at Once you’ve done that, you’ll see your username displayed in the top-left corner of the screen. Click it, and you’ll see the account menu. Once you’ve done this, you’ll see a menu like the one in the picture. Click on Settings.

Once the settings page loads, scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see something similar to this:

Don’t fall into the trap of getting confused between the two email addresses. The one you need for this is at the bottom. Copy this to your clipboard.

Pro tip: Do you receive a weekly events calendar or some other email that you use as part of your preparations? Save yourself some time and redirect/forward that email there too.

Setting up MT4…

 The next step is to set up MT4 for emailing. Open up the software, click Tools and then click Options (or press CTRL + O). When the Options box appears, click on the Email tab. Once you’ve done that, you should see something like this:

Fill in the details (you can find your provider’s SMTP details with Google). Once you’ve done that, send a test email by clicking the Test button. If your message was sent successfully, you’ll see something like this:

A simple note such as the one shown will appear in your notebook:

Great. Now that you’ve gotten this far, you’re ready to think about how you could apply something like this to your Expert Advisors. 

How can I use this in my Experts?

Open up the MetaQuotes Editor by clicking the icon or pressing F4 in MT4. Create a new EA (or open an existing one). In the OnStart section of the boilerplate, add the following code:

void OnStart ( ) {

SendMail ( "MT4", "I just sent a note to Evernote from MT4." );


When the Expert Advisor runs, your email will be sent. Well done!

Where can I go from here?

This example has hopefully taught you how to send a basic note from a MT4 Expert Advisor to Evernote. You have set up your Evernote email address and sent a simple line of text to the notebook. From here you can add data calculated or returned from your EA or, as I do, set it up to post at certain specific times. Good luck.

My trading journal setup.

Whenever you’re learning a new skill or improving an existing one, it’s important to track your progress. Since trading is one of the more difficult things you can choose to learn, this especially applies here. I’ve put together a framework using only free software that’ll allow you to get started quickly:

What you’ll need…

Getting started…

Every day it’s important to spend some time thinking about what might happen over the rest of the day. For that reason, I create a hypothesis document in Evernote. I’ve created a regular format for my hypotheses which starts with a daily checklist that asks a number of questions. Remember that trading is a game of discipline: if I don’t meet the criteria, I don’t place trades. The ability to create a list using checkboxes is perfect for this as you can see.

Tracking scheduled events…

Another important section of my journal is the calendar. I’ve set up notifications to my devices to remind me of scheduled events, but I also like to keep a record of every day’s events in my journal. Lightshot allows me to quickly take a screenshot of the appropriate section of the page (as illustrated) which can be copy/pasted into your note on Evernote or saved by pressing Ctrl + S.

Diving into the markets…

At this point in my hypothesis, I can begin to dive into the markets. I open up my trading software (in this case, MT4) and take screenshots of the markets across multiple time horizons as well as of the TPO profile, such as these:

One of the advantages of Lightshot is that it allows me to quickly annotate screenshots once I’ve pressed Print Screen and selected the appropriate section. Here’s one I made earlier:

As you can see, I’ve taken advantage of Lightshot’s features to help me keep a permanent record of my thoughts (good or otherwise!) about the trading day/week. When the annotated screenshot is ready, I can simply paste it into Evernote and it will be saved.

Video recordings…

Lastly I want to mention video recordings. If there is an event-driven element to your trading, this is definitely for you. Take, for instance, a significant but regular event such as the Non-Farm Payrolls. There’s no better way to keep a record of how events like this pan out than video. Flashback Express allows me to record a portion of the screen and add audio commentary if I want to. Also, you could use this method to record entire trading sessions if you like – there’s no better way to gauge your performance and emotions during the day than this. You can even look back and consider things that went well or went wrong; there’s no better learning experience than that.

In conclusion…

I hope I’ve been able to give you an insight into the process of journaling. As I’ve mentioned, it’s vital to track your progress, but it’s also nice to look back through your records and consider how much you’ve developed from time to time. In a forthcoming article, I’ll explain how you can automate elements of this process. This is very useful if, like me, most of your trading is automated. Good luck.