Have you been asked to prepare a white paper for a company or not-for-profit organisation but have no idea where to begin? Perhaps you are not even sure what a white paper is.
The good news is they are not so complicated and with a little preparation and research you too can create an effective white paper.
What Is a White Paper?
A white paper is quite simply a guide or report designed to inform a reader about a complex issue. The goal of the paper is to present the issue in an easily understood way that supports the reader to make an informed decision or find a solution to a problem.
They can also be known more colloquially as a competitive review, evaluator’s guide, executive briefing, market overview, position paper, product briefing or special report.
They most often advocate for a single solution or certain position and are therefore persuasive in their presentation of these. When well written, they can be very effective in helping a business achieve a core objective, implement change and/or secure new business.
As an aside, it is called a white paper as historically British parliamentary reports were presented with a white cover. In the USA, government white papers are also typically used to present reports or guidance regarding a pressing issue.
How many pages should a whitepaper be?
A white paper should be between 5 and 20 pages, with the most common length being 8 to 12 pages. The page count depends on the topic being covered and the depth of coverage. A whitepaper that is too short may not provide enough information to be effective, while a whitepaper that is too long may lose the reader’s attention. The goal is to strike a balance between providing enough information to be informative without overwhelming the reader.
Uses For A White Paper
You can prepare a white paper on just about any topic and for any audience. The main thing to remember is that a white paper, to be effective, must be prepared in such a way that it helps a business or individual to:
- Better comprehend an issue
- Make a key decision or
- Lead them to solve a particular problem
As long as you keep this in mind while writing your white paper, your content should achieve the desired outcome.
Who Are White Papers Written For?
White papers are usually written by a business for an audience outside of the business. While not a sales pitch, a white paper includes industry knowledge and is geared towards helping a business person or interested party better understand the business in question.
The types of individuals most likely to read a white paper include corporate executives, finance executives, IT managers, user representatives, line-of-business managers or similar.
What To Include In A White Paper
White papers most often follow a set format that includes:
- A title page.
- An introduction that includes a problem statement outlining what is going to be covered.
- The background of the issue, in this section you should include all research you have gathered regarding the topic.
- The proposed solution, including any case studies or examples of similar solutions to support your idea.
- A conclusion, sum up the gist of the paper, reaffirming the key points and making it clear what the outcome should be.
- Citations/sources, be sure to include evidence for all research presented or sources used to support your article.
What is the difference between white paper and a research paper?
The main difference between a white paper and a research paper is that a white paper is more focused on persuading the reader to take a specific course of action, while a research paper is more focused on informing the reader about a particular topic.
A white paper typically contains elements such as an executive summary, problem statement, proposed solution, and benefits of taking the proposed course of action. A research paper, on the other hand, usually contains an introduction, literature review, methodology section, results section, and discussion section.
While both types of papers can be effective in achieving their respective objectives, white papers are generally more persuasive in nature while research papers are more informative.
Do white papers count as publications?
There is no definitive answer to this question. In some cases, white papers may be considered as publications, while in others they may not. It really depends on the context and how they are being used.
If white papers are being used for academic or scientific purposes, then they are more likely to be considered as publications. This is because they contain original research and contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. However, if white papers are being used for marketing or promotional purposes, then they are less likely to be considered as publications. This is because their main purpose is to sell a product or promote a company, rather than to advance knowledge in their field.
If you’re thinking about using a white paper as part of your content marketing strategy, be sure to put in the time and effort necessary to produce a high-quality publication. It will be well worth the investment!
Does the idea of writing a white paper have you feeling overwhelmed or you simply do not have the time needed to dedicate to crafting one? You may like to employ a professional white paper writing service to handle it for you.
Specialising in formal business writing, these companies have extensive experience in what it takes to write winning white papers. They also possess other valuable skills such as editing and proofreading for a polished and impressive result.
Creating a white paper need not be a daunting task and there is a wealth of helpful information available to guide you through. However, if it is all too much, outsource it for a reliable and rapid turn-around.