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(Long description about the person.)

All in all, he didn't look like an army man.

Maybe I'm wrong but I think all in all is more commonly used to give a good-and-bad judgement? Example:

All in all, the restaurant didn't suck so much.

Am I mistaken? If not, what would be a better choice for the first sentence?

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  • The general sense of "all in all" is something like "taken or considered altogether." Most dictionaries will include coverage of this term, though they may not give it its own entry. Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), for example, includes this note near the end of its main entry for all as a pronoun: "all in all on the whole : GENERALLY". I think "all in all" works fine in both sentences you mention.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 18 '15 at 5:34
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In this case, "All in all," suggests something like "Summing up everything I've just told you,". It needn't be a value judgement which follows.

Though depending on the context (like in the army, say) "he didn't look like a army man" could be a value judgement.

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  • Somewhat pedantically, wouldn't it be more correct to say it means "Summing up everything there is to know about this topic", rather than focusing on what the current text has explicitly explained?
    – Flater
    Aug 24 '17 at 13:56
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You could also use the phrase 'all things considered' as an alternative, but I think all in all sounds just fine. Both these expressions mean that you've regarded the situation as a whole, taking into account all its different elements. So yes, all in all is a good choice for your sentence here. Whether you're going to use that or another synonymous expressions is just a matter of personal preference. :)

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