On Paper Idiom

On paper (idiom)

What does it mean to have the perfect team 'on paper.'   

on paper:   in theory it looks good or possible—but it may or may not be that way in reality.


Notes:     

This idiom stresses that in theory—as a concept or an idea—the thing being talked about looks good or seems like something that can be done or achieved. Sometimes, however, in reality (in real life) things are different than how we imagine them.

In the comic above, the woman is holding up a string of cut-out paper people. She says the team in her office looks good on paper. That means, they probably have the right skills, experience, education, training, etc.  However, they will have to see whether or not the team is good in reality. Maybe even if everyone has great skills they may hate each other and not work well together. Maybe they will be a perfect team.


Examples:

  • Everyone stay positive! Although their team is better on paper,  remember we have beaten highly-ranked teams before.      
  • On paper  the design was incredibly innovative but the prototype was a disaster.     
  • The travel itinerary through South America looks great on paper  but I still want to go camping instead.      
  • All of the candidates looked experienced on paper  but they gave terrible interviews. 
  • On paper  the job offer was incredible but I didn't like all of the other staff members.
  • The layout of the apartment looked so much better on paper.



If you found this idiom useful, sign-up for my free newsletter to learn about new idiom updates to my website.


Your turn to practice

Ready to practice using the idiom 'on paper?'  This will help you practice your English and remember this idiom in the future.


Return from "on paper" idiom to the main idioms page.

Go to homepage


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.