What Is Paper Trade? – What does Tell, Accounts, and More

What Is Paper Trade?

A paper trade is a simulated trade that allows an investor to practice buying and selling without risking real money. The term dates back to when (before the proliferation of online trading platforms) aspiring traders would practice on paper before attempting money in live markets.

While learning, a paper trader records all trades by hand to track hypothetical trading positions, portfolios, and profits or losses. Today, most practice trading involves using an electronic stock market simulator, which looks like a virtual trading platform.

What Does Paper Trade Tell You?

  • The development of online trading platforms and software has increased the ease and popularity of paper trading. Today’s simulators allow investors to trade live markets without the commitment of actual capital. And the process can help gauge whether investment ideas have merit.
  • Online brokers such as TradeStation, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade’s Think or swim offer clients paper trading simulators.
  • For example, TD Ameritrade’s paperMoney® design help customers try options and different investment strategies without worrying about losing any money.
  • Nearly everything about the simulator is the same as their feature-rich think or swim trading platform, except the investor is not trading real money.
  • To get the most benefits from paper trading, an investment decision and the placing of trades should follow actual trading practices and objectives.
  • The paper investor should consider the same risk-return objectives, investment constraints, and trading horizon as they would use with a live account.
  • For example, it would make little sense for a risk-averse long-term investor to practice numerous short-term trades like a day trader.
  • Also, paper transactions can apply to many market conditions. For example, a trade placed in a market characterized by high levels of market volatility is likely to result in higher slippage costs due to wider spreads than a market that is moving in an orderly manner.
  • Slippage occurs when a trader obtains a different price than expected from when the trade initiates to the business’s time.
  • Investors and traders can use simulated trading to familiarize themselves with various order types such as stop-loss, limit orders, and market orders. Charts, quotes, and news feeds are available on many platforms as well.

Paper Trade Accounts vs Live Accounts

  • Paper trading may provide a false sense of security and often results in distorted investment returns. In other words, nonconformity with the actual market happens because paper trading does not involve the risk of genuine natural capital.
  • Also, paper trading allows for basic investment strategies—such as buying low and selling high. They are more challenging to adhere to in real life but are relatively easy to achieve while paper trading.
  • The fact is that investors and traders are likely to exhibit different emotions and judgments when risking real money.
  • It may lead them to other behaviour when operating a live account.
  • For example, consider an actual trade by a new foreign exchange trader who enters into a long position with the euro against the U.S. dollar ahead of nonfarm payroll data.
  • Suppose the report is much better than expected and the euro drops sharply. In that case, the trader may double down in an attempt to recoup losses in the paper trade instead of taking the loss as would be advisable in an actual career.

Ways to Paper Trade

  1. The most straightforward approach to paper trading identifies an appealing stock through a chart on a website.
  2. An analysis by a market personality writes down the ticker and chooses a time to place a hypothetical buy order (or sell order if desiring to sell short).
  3. The novice jots down the opening price if entering at the start of the session. Or watches the chart and ticker during the trading day, picking a spot that looks like a good entry.
  4. The choice of entry price and time varies considerably, depending on the basic tutorials used to learn the trading game.
  5. The same holds during the management phase when deciding where to stop and how long to hold the position.
  6. Whatever the approach, an exit price finally writes down. And the novice repeats the process until enough data gather to analyze progress.
  7. While pen and paperwork perfectly well for paper trading, the spreadsheet provides a more robust analytical tool for detail-oriented individuals. Because they can add additional columns to capture: Stop placement, Time of day, Volume, Sector, Holding period, Day of the week, Market internals, including index direction and market volatility.
  8. Trade simulators offer the most powerful approach to paper trading. Because they let novices set up workstations that mimic actual real-time market conditions. Many brokers now offer this service for free to customers. It was allowing them to use the same trading software as real money players.
  9. This connection is invaluable because it allows a seamless transition from a simulated into a virtual trading environment once the student is ready.
  10. A final approach can be used at any time, even during weekends when the financial markets are closed.


Paper trading is simulated trading that allows investors to practise buying and selling securities. Paper trading can test a new investment strategy before employing it in a live account.

Many online brokers offer clients paper trade accounts. Paper trades teach novices how to navigate platforms. And make trades but may not represent the genuine emotions during actual market conditions.
Also Read: What is a Battery? – Work, Types, Battery to Battery, and More

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