The Quick and Easy Guide to
White Papers

White papers combine a "technical" format with a marketing purpose.  Primarily a marketing tool, these documents provide detailed information on products, services, partnerships or models, including "objective" support data and analysis.  White papers are both informational, giving technical background, and persuasive, emphasizing benefits.  Often white papers seek to demonstrate authority or prominence in a particular field or market.  Basically, white papers are reports meant to persuade a customer/client to use a particular product or service.  Audiences for white papers include buyers, executives, users, promoters, journalists and government officials.

Major Elements of White Papers

Although some white papers are presented as formal studies, complete with front and back matter, most are less formal.  White papers do include an introduction, body and conclusion, and may include references/sources.  The basic elements of white papers include:
  1. Background of problem/trends/markets
  2. Overview of current or previous solutions/conditions/options
  3. Brief description of the product, process or model (including visuals)
  4. Discussion of benefits and advantages of the product, process or model
  5. Presentation of research (e.g., marketing studies, case studies, surveys, etc.)
  6. Conclusion/summary
  7. Recommendation/request for action
White papers may be published electronically or traditionally in paper format.  These documents are often posted on web sites.  They may be mailed/e-mailed to a targeted audience.  Often white papers are made available at conferences, conventions and trade shows.  White papers may also be published in industry journals and publications.

Strategies for Effective White Papers

As with any written communication, the author needs to carefully consider the purpose and the audience before determining the technique used in writing white papers.  However, effective white papers usually do the following:
  The current style for White Papers focuses on "problems" and "solutions." Tailor your language to this approach when appropriate. (This trend may change over time.)

Written By: George Knox © 2017
E-mail: [email protected]