What is Paper Trading? Paper Stock Trading for Beginners

Paper trading lets you practise in a simulated environment before investing real capital. Learn the meaning of Paper trading without risking your money!

If you’re new to the world of trading, it’s only a matter of time before you discover that the stock market is a vast and unpredictable environment. Being a beginner, you might find it tough to navigate such a fast-paced setting. That’s why it is highly essential for you to learn the basics first before you actually invest your hard-earned money in the stock market. Thankfully, there’s a way to do that, and it is what most financial experts call ‘paper trading.’ In this article, learn about what is paper trading, how it works, its pros and cons, and how it is different from live trading. 

What is Paper Trading?

Paper trading is a method of practising the art of trading in the stock market in a completely virtual environment without actually investing your money. This virtual environment is separate, and whatever moves or trades you make here will not have any effect on the real stock market.

Paper trading simulates the real-world values and price movements of stocks and allows you to trade using virtual money. It allows you to test your trading strategies in a real-world setting to gauge the success or failure of the said strategies without putting your money at risk.

Here’s a fun fact for you. The term ‘paper trading’ or ‘paper trade’ came into the picture at the time when trading was conducted physically at the exchanges themselves instead of through an electronic platform. Traders and investors used to practise on paper by writing down their trading strategies and ideas and manually comparing them with the price movements of stocks in every single trading session.

But then, thanks to technological developments, traders can now paper trade using fully electronic stock market simulators that closely resemble real-world stock trading platforms.

How Does Paper Trading Work?

Paper trading is a valuable tool for new investors and traders seeking to grasp the fundamental mechanics of trading. It involves practising the buying and selling of stocks without the involvement of real money, essentially simulating trades on paper. 

Similar to actual investments, effective paper trading requires a careful application of trading practices and a clear investment objective. It allows novice traders to familiarise themselves with stock market practices, strategies, and tools in a risk-free environment, enabling them to build confidence and develop a better understanding of the intricacies of the financial markets before venturing into real investments.

Importance of Paper Trading

  • Paper stock trading provides a risk-free platform for beginners to practise and refine trading skills, enhancing their ability to navigate real financial markets confidently.
  • It serves as a valuable tool for testing and optimising investment strategies, allowing traders to experiment with different approaches and identify the most effective methods before committing to real capital.

Benefits of Paper Trading

Paper trading offers a host of benefits for both new and experienced traders alike. Here’s a quick overview of some of its key benefits. 

  • Hands-On Experience 

With paper trading, new traders can quickly gain practical experience without the pressure of real money. The platform helps traders understand how the market works and the various forces that are at play, which are crucial for success. 

  • Platform for Testing 

Both new and experienced traders can use paper trading platforms to test out their theories and strategies and refine their skills without risking real money. Since the platforms simulate real-time market conditions, traders can accurately assess the effectiveness of the strategies and make changes as needed. 

  • Performance Evaluation 

Traders can also use paper trading to track their performance over time by analysing their trade history. This allows them to easily determine what their strengths and weaknesses are before committing their hard-earned capital. 

  • Emotional Control  

Emotional decision-making is one of the leading causes of losses. Managing emotions like greed, fear and impatience is crucial for success. With paper trading, traders can practise emotional control and discipline without risking their money. 

Advantages of Paper Trading

Now that you’re well-versed with the concept of paper trade, let’s quickly take a look at some of the advantages that it offers to traders and investors like you.

  • Eliminates risk: Paper stock trading involves only virtual money, so you don’t have to put your hard-earned money at stake to conduct practice trades. This eliminates all sorts of risk completely, allowing you to make bold trading decisions with more confidence. Without the threat of losing your money on bad trades, you would actually be in a better position to practise and learn the art of trading in the stock market.
  • Eliminates stress: When it comes to trading, your mental stress levels play a huge role. When you’re new to this activity, emotions like greed, fear, and stress might take over, leading you towards trades that don’t meet your expectations. With adequate practice using paper trades, you can learn to keep your emotions and your stress levels in check. This allows you to view trading in a more objective manner.

Disadvantages of Paper Trading  

  • Might lead you to take on more than what you can handle: Since you would be using only virtual money to conduct paper trades, you might not feel any attachment towards the activity. This might embolden you to take on more risk than what you would normally take if real money was involved. Furthermore, there’s also the chance that you might not take the losses that you suffer during paper trading seriously, which can have consequences in the real world.
  • Not accounting for other costs: While paper trading allows you to practise trading, it doesn’t take any of the other costs into account. During real trades, you would incur many expenses, such as commissions, fees, and taxes, among others. This, when added up, has the potential to drag your profits down. Sometimes, the costs associated with trades can be the difference between profit and loss. Paper trades don’t help you prepare for this at all.

Paper Trades Vs Live Trading

Aspect Paper Trades Live Trading
Risk and Realism No actual financial risk. Involves real money and financial risk.
Emotional Impact Emotions may not be as prominent. Real money introduces emotional factors like fear and greed.
Learning Environment Provides a risk-free learning environment. Requires a heightened level of responsibility and discipline.
Market Realism Simulates market conditions realistically but doesn’t impact the stock prices in real time.  Involves actual market dynamics, impacting stock prices in real-time.


Owing to the proliferation of online trading accounts and platforms, paper trading has tremendously grown in popularity in recent years. Almost all brokerages these days offer you the tools needed to practise in a virtual simulated environment that’s designed to help you learn how to trade and backtest your trading strategies. Here’s a word of caution. Although these paper trading platforms simulate market movements, the data feeds may not always be real-time. You should take this into account before utilising the platform.

To get started with the investments in the stock market, open a Demat Account on Angel One today. Happy Investing!


What is the meaning of Paper Trading and why is it important?

Paper trading is a form of practising the art of trading outside the real market in a simulated platform. Paper stock trading is crucial for beginner traders to help them practise their trading strategies in real-world scenarios without investing real money. The best part is that the trades using paper trading don’t influence the actual market, so traders don’t need to worry about losses and make bold decisions. 

Who can benefit from paper trading?

Although paper trading is meant for new traders, it can benefit anyone who wants to test the scope of their trading strategies before committing to it. 

The advantages traders get from paper trading are incalculable. Since you are using real-world data, you can check your strategy against different scenarios. Paper stock trading also helps to trade without emotional biases because it doesn’t involve real money. Practising in a simulated environment can significantly differentiate between a successful trading career and disappointment. 

Can I earn money with paper trading?

No, paper trading is a simulated practice, and you cannot earn real money. It’s a risk-free environment for learning and refining trading skills.

Do we need a Demat Account for paper trading?

No, a Demat account is not required for paper trading. It’s a simulated platform for practising trades without involving real financial transactions or the need for a live trading account.

How do I start paper trading?

To start paper trading, all you need to do is create an account with a stockbroker that offers paper trading functionality. Many online brokers provide simulated trading accounts alongside their live trading platforms. Once the account is created, simply log in and start trading.

What are the risks of paper trading?

Paper trading may seem very safe in theory. However, it has its share of risks. The main pitfall with paper trading is the lack of emotional involvement, which can lead to traders taking on more risk. Such behaviour can sometimes be carried over onto real trades, leading to huge losses. Also, paper trading doesn’t account for trading costs like brokerage, taxes and other expenses, which can potentially lower your profits.