How I write a White Paper

An Overview of  White Paper

White papers are a favorite marketing tool for companies. Companies aim to sell products as solutions to their customers through a white paper. The white papers educate readers and enables them to make decisions in choosing the solution that suits their needs. In this case, the white paper becomes an excellent marketing and SEO tool that advertises the company's products or services.

But writing a white paper is a challenging task. It involves an in-depth study of the product and its application, gathering information from the subject matter experts, and reviewing the product design documents. The objective is not only to convey information but to spark reader's interest to engage him in reading the rest. Precision and clarity are the watchwords. Naked facts are not enough to invite a reader's invitation to the rest of the document. It's their context- the writing, the container of the information - that illuminates facts for the reader and gives them significant meaning.

A typical length of a white paper varies from 8-12 pages.


How I write a white paper

I meet the product owner, understand the requirements, check the target audience, ask for a target date of completion, and get a brief introduction or demo of the product.

After the preliminary discussion, I do my own research. After I gain knowledge, I write the first draft, juxtapose words, and convey information that gives a richer experience to the readers. When I am satisfied with the first draft, I send it for review.

Occasionally, the first draft may not meet the expectations. Every good writer knows that the first draft of any piece of writing rarely resembles the polished, final version. It can be due to many factors such as I might have missed certain features, or it might not have been discussed in the first meeting. I then have a second round of discussion. This is when I get a fresh revelation. I capture these intricate details and put them in my second draft. This draft is almost a perfect piece. Over the years, I have learned that a writer needs a tough skin, for no matter how advanced one's experience and career, expert criticism cuts to the quick, and one learns to endure and to perfect. Writing is
iterative, and a text reaches its full potential through multiple drafts, feedback, revision, and editing.


 Principal components of a white paper

  • A good page layout - A good page layout ensures that language, graphics, and colors combine on a page to promote clear communication. Readers of the page will find it pleasing and easy to read even though they may not be conscious of all the page layout techniques.
  • A title that arouses curiosity - A good title is the title of a successful white paper. A good title is like coming to a house you have never been in before and having the owner open the door and say "Welcome". A good title can make a tremendous difference in the early acceptance of a white paper.
  • Table of Contents - TOC help readers in two ways: 1. they outline the structure of the document and thus provide insight into the document's organization. 2. they provide the page numbers for all sections and subsections, thus helping readers to locate parts of the document.
  • Background/introduction to the document - The introduction sets the stage. It normally includes the historical background of the product and establishes the scope of the product. In essence, the introduction is a road map, it orients the reader by providing a context for the reading. In short, the introduction prepares the reader for what will follow. 
  • Graphics - Graphics are essential for conveying key information in the white paper. Readers will recall one impactful graphic long after they have forgotten a thousand words of text. Create visuals first, write text last. Graphics are more emphatic than text and should, therefore, be designed early in the writing process.
  • How the product solves the problem
  • System functions
  • Benefits of the product.
  • Architecture of the product
  • Evaluation criteria for choosing the product
  • Conclusions

If you need help in writing a white paper, contact me at abeeshthomas@yahoo.com or call +65-82086393.

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