paper trail

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paper trail

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.
See also: paper, trail
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*paper trail

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.
See also: paper, trail
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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.
See also: paper, trail
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
He submitted that the EC wrote 10 letters to the Centre in 2014 for funds to introduce paper trail but nothing has yet happened.
Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office, which oversees elections, said adding paper trail backups to voting machines wouldn't be something her office could decide to do on its own.
While Congress looked the other way, many states responded to popular demand and imposed their own paper trail requirements.
550, a bill that would require electronic voting equipment to have a paper trail, something 27 states already require and 23 others are likely to require soon.
Dennis Loo's "No Paper Trail Left Behind: the Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election," can be viewed at
In this book, Jack Tapper does an excellent job of providing readers with myths and truths about paper trails and privacy in corporate America.
"Nobody's talking about ballot design; we're so embroiled in talking about voter-verified paper trails," he says.
Matthews has also been using an Internet-based program for managing the professional growth of Troy's faculty, a process that has become more daunting under the new NCLB definitions of "high quality teachers" and "high quality teacher development." The new software, called The KALPA Professional Development Manager, lets teachers plan their own professional development and lets administrators monitor them--all without the long paper trails of the past.
For the first time, effective JCAHO preparation may directly benefit patient care because survey strategies must emphasize knowing what is actually going on with patients, and spending far less time sitting in committees developing lengthy paper trails.
The departure of "Paper Trails" columnist Carrie Rengers left an opening for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette gossip column--but it was a hole that was quickly filled.
The former inspector said surprise visits by UN teams can prove very successful in discovering crucial information or weapons but other types of inspections such as paper trails can be just as, if not more, effective.
This year's emphasis on electronic media paid off as CalCPA nearly doubled television and radio appearances with segments on topics ranging from chasing terrorist paper trails to personal finance and taxes.
But after a year of reluctantly chasing paper trails and interviewing supposedly airtight sources, not only had I uncovered nothing, but I also realized that I was searching for an answer that I did not wish to find.
In addition, they want to store their financial information in a single place and eliminate the need for detailed paper copies and paper trails.