A white paper is a popular marketing tool to address audiences outside an organization. Previously, these reports were used by financial establishments, governmental agencies, NGOs, and think tanks when presenting their research findings concisely. However, with the growth of content marketing, white papers have increasingly become common in other industries such as medicine, nursing, healthcare, agriculture, etc. These industries use white paper documents to sell information or new products that will solve customers' needs.
In this guide, written by our top paper writers, we take you through the definition, process, steps, and tips for writing a great white paper, even if it is your first time.
A white paper is an in-depth report about a particular topic that shows the writer's point of view to educate the readers. After reading a white paper, readers can understand an issue and make an informed decision. In simpler terms, white papers are well-developed guides that provide solutions to problems. White papers can come in visualized data like graphs, tables, etc., to present research in an easy-to-digest format.
The term white paper originated in the early 1900s in England, where they were used to introduce government legislation. These documents are commonly used in politics, business, and technical fields. Some of the key characteristics of white papers are:
White papers are more technical and thorough than case studies, blogs, or other types of content. They depend on extensive research, data, expertise, and original analysis to explain a particular issue or promote a product, service, or methodology.
A white paper is a persuasive report to promote an agenda or solve a problem. However, industries use it for other reasons, including:
To access white papers, the audience must sometimes provide certain information, such as email addresses. This is usually viewed as a useful tool for creating leads.
The following are the different types of White papers you will find.
Here are general guidelines you can follow to write a compelling white paper.
Before writing a white paper, you must decide on your target audience.
What is pushing you to write the white paper?
Note that white papers are directed at an audience already aware of the topic but just need more information to understand it. Usually, the target audience is a well-defined external audience.
This could be key decision makers who are facing a certain problem. However, businesses could also target the public to inform them about a product or service that could solve their problem.
Knowing how your target audience will help you know what tone and industry-specific words to use.
Next, develop a topic that will resonate with the identified audience. Consider the following when doing so:
Remember that white papers are meant to be informative and authoritative, so provide content based on your experience and expertise.
Also, consider asking your audience what they would like to read from you. They will share ideas that could help you develop an informative topic.
Researching is important if you want highly informative content valuable to your audience.
Conduct comprehensive research by pulling information from various resources and documents, talking to other experts in the industry, and reading other white papers.
Every point you make should be supported by thorough research.
Cite any information you provide that is not public knowledge. This will provide credibility to your paper and increase your audience's trust in your work.
Now that you have done proper research to set your paper up for success, you should focus on developing an outline for the white paper.
An outline is the best way to map out your white paper.
Start with an abstract and conclude with appendices that show supporting materials used in the paper.
You can use a white paper template to develop your outline.
Start writing your paper by following the outline while keeping your audience in mind.
Ensure you support all your points with facts if you want them to take your paper seriously.
Provide a detailed description of the problem you are trying to address.
Proofreading and editing your work is important to make it clear. You can do this as many times as you want.
The more you do this, the more you will likely find sections that need improvement.
Ensure that you indent each paragraph well.
Also, remember that this is a professional paper so glaring errors will paint you in a bad light. Use tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly to help spot errors in your work.
You can hire a human proofreader to help realign the paper to the instructions.
A well-written and easy-to-follow white paper will keep the readers glued to the text until the end. White papers follow a standard format, which includes the following:
You are not alone if you wonder why there is no problem statement. After all, white papers are supposed to find solutions. You can add it in the introduction because white papers are defined here. This is to say that there is no rigid format to follow. That said, here is how to write on a white paper.
This is the first thing your target audience will see when they get the white paper. Therefore, you must ensure it is well-written to push the audience to read more. Make sure it is enticing and engaging. It should give context to your title and establish the text's theme.
This is a description of what the paper is about. It provides an overview of all the main points in the document. After reading, the audience can decide whether they have found something to meet their needs.
Do not provide the conclusion here; instead, mention the paper is purpose. Usually, customers read the abstract and conclusion to decide whether the paper is worth their time.
What do you want to discuss in the paper?
Why should the audience be interested?
This part of the white paper is an important opportunity to introduce how you can solve their problem.
A white paper's introduction can be a few paragraphs or an entire page. It is like a teaser, telling the readers what to expect in the body paragraphs.
Please note that the first sentence should grab the reader's attention, so ensure it is interesting and informative. It can be a fact, statistic, anecdote, or a rhetorical question.
Related Article: Hook statement guide with examples.
As mentioned earlier, the introduction can also contain the problem statement. Therefore, mention and give an overview of the problem you are trying to solve.
This is the place where you tell the readers how you are going to solve their problem. Provide detailed answers to the problem you mentioned in your introduction.
Say why your business/company or service is the perfect choice for the audience. Talk about how they directly benefit the audience.
Also, provide alternate solutions, even those from your competitors.
Related Article: Types of Paragraphs.
Like the abstract, this section summarizes everything you have discussed in the body paragraphs, emphasizing the paper's purpose. Keep in mind that the paper presents facts, not just opinions. It allows you to do the following:
Adding references will provide more validity to your paper. In the reference section, you must include all sources used to develop the white paper. It will also make it possible for the readers to do further research. An easy way to cite your paper is to hyperlink to other websites' arguments to the original content.
You can also provide additional resources for readers to gather additional information. Depending on your industry, use either MLA or APA citation formats.
This section of the white paper shows the supporting materials used in the paper. It can also present any technical information or even describe the methodology used in the paper.
Remember that the length of your white paper will determine its structure.
If yours is longer, you can include certain sections such as table of contents, problem statement, solutions, etc.
You can break up the texts with graphs, tables, images, and other visual elements to keep your audience interested and provide more ways for them to learn about your points.
Gone are the days when white papers used to be up to 50 pages.
Readers now demand shorter papers. Readers find white papers that are too long to be disappointing.
Experts have agreed on this but provide the following guidelines when writing a white paper.
Note that for technical papers, three pages (not including the cover page) is the bare minimum for most readers. It is challenging to identify a problem and come up with solutions to solve it in three pages.
The following are remedies to use if you write a wrong-length white paper for your audience. For white papers that are too long:
For shorter white papers:
When writing a white paper, there are certain things that you must check off to ensure it indeed meets its purpose. Before we get into this, here are the five W's of a white paper.
A white paper is all about your audience, so keep them in mind when you write. Most of the time, businesses write about themselves and their products as a promotion technique. This isn't a bad idea, but it's not what a white paper is for. So, think of what your audience will want to know when coming up with a topic. The aim should be to come up with content that can benefit them.
A white paper is set up for your website. The great thing about this is that once it's set up on the landing page, it will work for you 24/7.
A white paper aims to educate the audience about a product or service. As you give out this information, you are providing value to your customers and, at the same time, building trust with them.
With this out of the way, here is a checklist for a white paper.
Does your paper have a compelling topic? A topic usually pushes an audience to download and read the white paper. For this reason, it should have snippets of what benefits they will get after reading it.
The first few sentences of your introduction should grab your audience's attention and make them want to read more. Ensure you quickly and briefly outline all the challenges that your audience is currently facing, and then say how you can help them. One of the best ways to grab readers' attention is to develop a statistic in the area they are struggling with or need a solution.
To provide credibility to your paper, you need to offer statistics, graphs, charts, market drivers, and opinions from experts in the industry. Make sure you include this early on in your paper to set the stage for what has to come up later. Keep in mind that without knowing the context of your paper, readers will not understand what your service or product is about.
Have you shown that you understand the reader's struggles? Before solving their struggles, show that you understand what they are dealing with. Consider discussing their key challenges and the possible risks of not addressing them.
Most readers pick white papers because they provide tips for solving their problems. Therefore, you must ensure that you have provided a list of all the helpful tips.
These tips should cover the larger portion of the paper.
Please take note that the more your audience feels like they are getting value, the more they will read your paper.
After showing that you understand the reader's problems and discussing all the helpful tips, it is time to develop your pitch.
Show how your product or service can help them. This is a great opportunity to include a success story.
Your target audience will likely want case studies.
Tell the readers what you want them to do after reviewing your white paper. You can offer some incentives, such as a free trial.
Even if you have the best copy, it will not serve its value if you have not formatted it well. Make sure you follow the formatting structure. Additionally, make sure your paragraphs are short and precise. Readers do not like reading large blocks of text. Also, use bullets and white space to make it attractive.
Use the following tips to help you write a high-quality white paper.
A white paper is important in most industries, including government agencies. This is because it aims to explain complex issues and educate an audience about a particular product or solution to solve a problem. Creating a compelling white paper is not easy, but you can succeed once you know the structure needed and all the tips provided above.
If you are struggling to write a white paper, are late with one, or do not know how to make it perfect and could use some help, we have the best paper writers online. Companies, individuals, businesses, students, and organization executives trust us to write their white papers. Our satisfaction rate is 99.99% because we do it the best way possible. The writers plan, research, and write all papers without using AI in the production pipeline.
A white paper is an in-depth report explaining complex issues whilst providing solutions for a particular problem.
White papers are important documents that can be used to educate clients, stakeholders, or the general public about a complex issue. However, they can also be used to generate leads for a business, build credibility and increase sales.
The length of a white paper carries, but it usually ranges between 3000 to 5000 words.
The term originated when government papers were coded in different colors for distribution. The papers that were meant for public access were given a white color.