Basic steps in white paper format writing

Until recently, white papers were written and issued by governments to inform audiences about certain proposals for changing legislation. However, today they are widely used by companies to introduce their unique services and products that provide solutions to specific problems. To help you familiarize yourself with this type of writing, we have provided a white paper format example below.

The knowledge of white paper writing will be of a great help to the one who wants to inform the audience on a particular topic, convey specific policy, present technical information, or propose a solution to an existing issue. Due to a considerable amount of data backed up by research, white papers have a formal tone. A good white paper is well-structured and written according to an outline. In this article, you will find clear and concise information with some useful tips for writing a good white paper. Do not hesitate to turn to our writing specialists in case you think you need a solid help from an expert writer.

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History of white paper writing

The history of white paper writing dates back to ancient times. This format was used by governments. For example, the 1922 Churchill White Paper is one of the brightest examples of white papers in government affairs. However, the fact that white papers were introduced by governments does not mean that they cannot be used in other spheres of life.

In the 21st century, they are gaining prominence in marketing, management, business-to-business communication, and so on. Companies present white papers to share the results of their investigations or expand public awareness of their products and achievements. They may not have a tone as formal as in academic research, but they are still written using professional language and advanced terminology. This is why it is so important to be ready to write a great white paper. 

Preparing a white paper

Review other white papers

If there are any white papers relating to your subject, never hesitate to review them. This way, you will know what was or was not explored in this field before you. You will be able to determine the focus of your white paper. You will see possible knowledge gaps and use your white paper as an opportunity to educate and inform your readers.

If information is abundant and redundant, you should be able to organize and systematize it. Divide it into smaller chunks and use graphic organizers to identify the key themes and issues. A mind map is a great thing to use when writing a white paper. Besides, it fits ideally well in any white paper format. You are most welcome to use free mind map tools that are available online. 

Tips on how to prepare a perfect white paper

Proper white paper formatting

When working on your white paper, you should know and comply with the basic formatting requirements. Your white paper should have several mandatory elements.

  • Heading: here you will include your full name, subject or class (or program), and the word count for your paper.
  • Title: make sure that the title is creative enough to draw the attention of your readers.
  • Introduction: Here, you provide a brief overview of the issue or question you are going to answer in your white paper. Remember that the introduction should be engaging enough to keep your readers glued to the white paper. Include a short preview of the information included in the white paper. This way, your readers will know what to expect in the body of your project. Avoid any ambiguous statements. Be specific. Do not mislead or deceive your reader. 
  • Background of the problem: Here, you specify the problem or concern. You also provide data to justify the relevance of the problem and its significance for the audience. Therefore, you should be able to define your audience and look at the problem from their perspective. The main task is to supply enough factual information to prove that your readers should review the white paper. Also, your task is to prove that you have enough knowledge and expertise to do this analysis. For example, you may want to elaborate on the effects the problem may have for your audience. You may also review strategies that were used previously to address the issue.
  • It is important to use specific and verifiable evidence. This section should incorporate a lot of facts and data. Everything should be cited and referenced properly. Your readers should be able to track the origins of the data. You may rely on your experience and expertise in the selected industry. Without any such experience, you will need to do extensive research that is compelling and detailed enough to create a rationale for your white paper. Take a look at a sample white paper to see how it works. Be prepared to handle large clusters of statistical data, since a perfect white paper is always data-based and data-driven. If you think that too much statistics will keep your readers bored, you are most welcome to share examples from your practice to illustrate the significance and effects of the problem. Use the required citation format to cite and reference the data you borrow from other sources. Also, make sure that the problem you discuss in your white paper really exists. It should be a problem facing a company or the entire industry, and not just a single store located in a remote village.
  • Solution: The purpose of this section is to propose a solution to the problem discussed in the previous chapter. Moreover, the task is to justify the importance and potential of this solution to eradicate the issue. How should the effectiveness of this solution be measured? What resources are needed to ensure its effectiveness? Is there any special training needed to minimize losses and increase opportunities? Include answers to these questions and acknowledge any limitations associated with the proposed solution. 
  • Conclusion: In this section, you will summarize the key data and the main argument of your white paper. This is your last chance to provide a compelling rationale for the proposed solution. Do not repeat unnecessary information. Do not include any new information. 
  • Cite your white paper according to the specific requirements of your organization. Make sure that you include graphics and visuals to illustrate the main points.

White paper writing example to read for free

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