paper trail(redirected from paper trails)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Physical or digital documentation of a person's activities. The con artist wrote fraudulent checks all over the state, leaving a paper trail for police to follow. Frank swore that he wasn't using the company's computer for illegal activities, but the digital paper trail he left proved otherwise.
Fig. a series of records that is possible to examine to find out the sequence of things that happen. (*Typically: have ~; leave ~; make ~.) The legal department requires all these forms so that there is a paper trail of all activity.
a paper trail
A paper trail is written evidence of someone or something's activities. Police investigations found a paper trail of checks that were written on false bank accounts. Unlike conventional voting systems, many electronic systems leave no paper trail to allow results to be double-checked.