Tips How to Write a White Paper Successfully
What is a White Paper – Definition
It is good to understand the meaning of a white paper before you get to writing. A white paper is a document used to provide a solution to a certain problem. The first form of white papers came as official government documents. Later, they were adopted in the corporate setting. White papers are usually not more than five pages and not less than a page. They include free white pages.
The main aim of a white paper is to convince people that the solution provided is the best for the given problem or that people should follow a certain position. For commercial purposes, white papers usually play a major role in the decision making of both the current and prospective buyers.
For example, a white paper in the corporate setting can be used to suggest using a specific product for a certain technical process or marketing purposes. In the government setting, it can be used to find ways of solving certain municipal problems.
How to Write a White Paper and Succeed
Writing a white paper involves a lot, this, therefore, calls for planning before getting into it. If you plan what you want to write well, then you will end up with a purposeful and effective white paper. To write a purposeful and effective white paper, you should be able to understand your clients, clearly state the problem you want to tackle and come up with proper arguments that provide convincing and engaging solutions. Let’s now get to the key steps involved in writing a white paper. The first thing to do is to profile your audience, and this is what you need to do:
- Understand your audience
As we have mentioned earlier, the purpose of a white paper is to advocate for a certain position or provide a solution to a certain problem. What this means is that the problem might be specific to a certain group. You therefore first have to consider your target audience and try as much as possible to get to know their characteristics. This is very important because it will guide you when forming your arguments. You, therefore need to ensure that the solution to the problem or the position you are advocating for is familiar to your clients.
On the same note, you need to understand the level of expertise of your audience. This is very vital as it will guide you on how to structure your white paper. It will tell you whether your paper should be simple or complex.
For example, if your audience is made up of people from your field of practice, then you can consider adding some technical jargon if the audience is mixed up, that is people from different fields, then you need to keep your paper as general as possible. When it comes to the use of scientific terms, try to minimize them and always ensure you explain them in detail.
Consider the following:
- If your white paper is based on a corporate audience, you need to talk about potential growth and cost effectiveness
- For an official government white paper, policy implications should be the focus
- Depending on the field of expertise, choose relevant technical details coupled with their descriptions.
- Choose a proper title
You need to choose a catchy title, something that will entice someone to read your work. Your title should be able to capture the attention of the reader. Make sure that the title has a relationship with the problem you are handling. You can add the words “White Paper” but note that it is not a must. Craft your title in such a way that a general audience can relate to.
- Hook the reader/Audience
Jump exactly to what you are trying to solve in your white paper. You should avoid unnecessary extra wording the will not add value to your white paper. Your opening sentences should be able to engage your readers to make them stick to reading the paper.
You need to have a captivating introduction. First, acknowledge the readers and state the purpose of your paper. After which you mention what is happening and then briefly explain why you see it as a problem. That being done provide a brief discussion of your arguments and state why you are advocating for another position.
- Provide a solution summary
At this point, you need to briefly introduce to the readers the method you are going to apply when doing your analysis. You also need to highlight some possible solutions and the reasons why you don’t see them as the best. Give your readers/audience and explanation why your proposed solution is the best and why they need to accept it.
Once you are done with that, you need to clearly state the problem.
The following are the guidelines:
- Problem Identification
You should base the problem on your audience needs. Make sure you only major on the problems that you intend to provide a solution for. Your problem should be stated in just a few words.
- Increased number of high school dropouts.
- Decreasing Sales.
- Poor job performance.
- Problem Analysis.
At this point, you need to provide details of the problem you have identified. You need to state in detail how you arrived at that problem. This should be supported by facts and figures. Ensure that you adopt terms that are clear and precise.
Try as much as possible to limit your analysis to a single paragraph.
The reason for this analysis is to make your work credible.
- Give a Historical overview
The purpose of historical overviews is to explain further why the problem you are trying to provide a solution for is indeed a problem. In most cases, a current problem might have been a previous solution to a problem. Using relevant data, explain how your problem evolved from being a solution to a current problem.
- Adopt the use of visual aids
This is very important as they help the audience properly understand your arguments. They may include graphs, diagrams or charts. Apart from stressing the arguments, they are also good elements of capturing the audience’s attention. Depending on the purpose of the white paper and your preference, you can either choose to place these visual aids within the text or add them in the appendix section.
- Give additional findings
Make sure you properly look at the data and figures you have and ensure that all your conclusions are properly explained regarding how they were arrived at. Ensure that you properly look at your references so that you produce findings that will create no room for doubt.
In providing your conclusions and findings, think of someone working on the same data and ask yourself whether they will get the same answers.
Lastly, you need to come up with proper arguments that provide convincing and engaging solutions:
- Give the solution
Once you have stated the problem and provided a justification of it, you need to provide a proposed solution for the same. At this stage, you should give the steps of how your ideas are going to be implemented. This should be divided into parts that will make the reader/audience easily follow and understand your ideas.
- Provide justification
You should give enough evidence as to why your solution or stand is the best and that people should follow. Your arguments should be based on scholarly articles, government publications, trade journals and your research data and figures.
You also need to give other possible solutions acknowledging that they can make up good solutions but state why they are not the best solutions to the problem you are trying to solve.
- Provide a summary
Provide a review of the problem you are trying to solve. Mention briefly your solution and also state the results that you intend to see.
Tips for Writing a Paper
The following are some of the tips that you can use to prepare a convincing white paper.
- Relevant topic
This is the face of your white paper. It seems rather obvious, but many people encounter challenges finding the best topic for their white papers. The key is to ensure that you come up with a topic that people will desire to read. In this case, you should first describe your audience; this is the people you want to communicate to. After which, you can dig deep to find out the common problem or challenge they are facing or the things they find interesting. These should be a lead to identifying the best white paper topic.
You should note that the purpose of your white paper is to advocate for a certain position or provide a specific solution. This is therefore not a general blog. You need to ensure that you employ professionalism regarding the writing style you will adopt which should mainly follow the business style. You should also be descriptive so that you make your point clear.
- Catchy introduction
Your introduction should be able to hook your reader to continue reading the whole thing. You, therefore, need to ensure that it is captivating. Make sure your introduction captures the attention of the reader and then inform them what to expect from the paper. This entails summarizing your white paper in just a few words. You can also provide the topics that you are going to cover.
- Show value
Don’t look at your white paper as a form of advertisement; rather, look at it as an opportunity for you to give your expert opinion about an issue that is of interest to your readers. Then from this, you are likely to get something in return such as new customers. The key here to provide value in your white paper, this is through giving well-researched tips and information.
- Proper organization
Your white paper should be properly organized. Before writing your white paper, ensure that you first create an outline that is by your goals. Your white paper should be able to grab the readers’ attention, and then offer value. The reader is the left to take action.
- Editing and Proofreading
After finishing writing your white paper, you need to go through it to ensure that you get read of any errors in the text. A well written white paper improves its credibility. Make sure that spelling errors, grammar errors and typographic errors are all removed. Apart from that, you should also ensure that your work flows well.
You can also involve other people in proofreading your work. This is to ensure that you make your work read better. Other people’s opinion will ensure that all the mistakes you overlooked are weeded out.
- Follow up
If your white paper is about stating an opinion about using a certain product or service that will be of benefit your readers, ensure that you give it a mention at the end of the paper. The body of your white paper should be free from selling products or service. In summarizing your work, make sure you add this in a catchy manner that will make it seem natural as part of the paper.
White Paper Writing Format
A good white paper has the following outline:
- Title/Headline-This should describe your topic explicitly.
- Executive summary-This is a brief description of the contents of the white paper and its purpose.
- Introduction-The introduction should have the points that will be tackled in the body of the white paper.
- A subheading for every section-The white paper should be divided into sections, and each section should have a subheading.
- Sidebars-Sidebars usually carry any additional information. This should only be added if applicable.
- Conclusion-A summary of all your key points and it also bears the call to action.
With this guide you are sure to come up with the best White paper. You can also go through different samples and templates to add up.