How Do You Write A White Paper?

White papers follow the format of a basic business report. It is best to begin with an introduction to the topic, then answer all of the readers' questions and help them to understand the problem throughout the document. The conclusion should be where your primary problem solving "ta-da" is.

Should You Cite References in a White Paper?

References should always be cited, either with links throughout the document or by sourcing them in the footnotes. Providing links to resources not only cites your information to give credit where it's due, but it also adds validity to what you're saying. It also provides the reader with additional content to research, since you can't possibly fit everything into one document.

Does Your White Paper Need a Table of Contents?

It's always best to include a table of contents, especially one with anchor links that can help the reader navigate to specific topics. Not only does this make the document more user-friendly, but it lets your reader know what problems they can solve by reading it.

Support for sales teams in the varying stages of the sales cycle

Bringing awareness to a new and/or best practice or a product offering

Positioning the organization as a thought leader

Elaborating on the unique selling proposition (USP) of an organization, product or service

Should You Have Graphics in Your White Paper?

Despite the name white paper, you can have some graphic appeal to it. It should mostly consist of information through words, but it's not against the rules to have photos, graphs, or other art. 

How Should the Graphic Design of the Finished Piece Look?

There are a few key things to look out for when designing your copy into a finished piece. Here are a few tips:

Avoid long horizontal lines of text. The rule of thumb is only to do 12 words per line or about 60 to 66 characters. Following this rule helps make your document more readable. 

Avoid awkward page breaks. Don't start a new topic at the very bottom of the page; go to the next page to continue the next subject.

Avoid just using giant blobs of text. Break up content with graphics, shading, bullets, headings, etc. And don't forget to break up your paragraphs! In most writing, three to five sentences should be all you see before something breaks it up.

Don't make pages too busy. Again, while you can include graphs, art, photos, etc., the purpose of a white paper is to share knowledge and solve a problem. Don't let your graphics take attention from your content. Stick with one appropriate illustration per page.

With these tips, you'll have a design and format that keeps the reader's attention. But all of this is only advantageous once the white paper has actually been downloaded. 

So how do you promote the white paper and get it in the readers' hands? Promotion is the first step in getting this downloadable content to generate leads for your business.

Read the next post to learn more.

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