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

*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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
In the public sector, the response to past tragedies that stemmed from a deplorable absence of care, risk assessment or safeguarding has given rise to complex paper-trails. School heads countersign countless forms to signify approval for all kinds of activities, while teachers can barely take children outside the classroom without completing forms in triplicate.
It's a sad world that requires a paper-trail even for the intensely intimate act of making love.