For any online writer, the white paper is a valuable arrow in the content creation quiver.
Depending on the subject matter structures necessarily differ, both in terms of the content itself as well as the overall construction of the material.
That said, writing a white paper is also subject to some fairly universal guidelines, many of which I adhere to when writing for Appnovation, as well as having observed in previous employment roles. Though these are by no means meant to be exhaustive, the tips below are valuable for novices who are making their first, or early steps in white paper content creation, providing some basic information that will help make your white paper valuable to your readers, and within your industry.
White Paper Writing Guidelines
- Outline and define the focal, main point, or central issue
- Engage and capture the reader's attention...try short, sharp headlines, or bold, or even controversial comments
- Incorporate data, where possible, to support your central thesis
- Introduce details, but don't elaborate until later in the paper....keep them reading...
- Framework flow: maintain an easy, readable, logic content flow
In addition to the above, try and ensure that you never lose sight of the central objective that your white paper sets out to approach. If you compose a clear structure in the introduction, keeping to that will deliver both a well ordered white paper, as well as a more enjoyable and flowing reader experience.
Be sure to organize, and introduce to the audience, a starting point, a road map, and an eventual conclusion and end point of your material, as well as the objectives therein.
Synopsis and Outline
Before going anywhere near populating for publication, get your outline pinned down. It's better to have a longer synopsis, which can be summarily truncated and ultimately finalized, than having nothing and struggling to keep your writing clarity. Be sure to allude to the order of the table of contents, again keeping things focused, ordered, and meticulous.
It is also good to include some material that speaks directly to the interests of the reader, thereby enticing them to both want to read the entire piece, as well as making them confident that they will glean something from doing so.
Above all else, don't even think about making it sound like a sales or marketing campaign...there are plenty of other content types for that.
Problem or Issue Statement
Whenever you write a white paper, there needs to be a problem or issue that is being addressed at length. More to the point, a good white paper will examine the issues, before proceeding to offer some kind of potential solutions.
- What are the main pain points or issue being discussed?
- Why do enterprises or corporations have issues with these?
- Are there business benefits to be reaped from addressing them?
- Is there direct data to support the premise of the problem?
- How can solutions be found, and are they valuable enough to spend time on?
- What are these solutions?
Everyone loves a solution to their problems, and a white paper is a good way of delivering content with real, tangible value. Once you have outlined, discussed and evaluated the central tenet of your piece, get to the solutions.
Depending on the subject matter, you can either provide a framework for such a solution, or go into specific details as to how your audience can implement and introduce these solutions. Be careful to target your audience very specifically, allowing each reader to extrapolate the relevant data, the most on-point information, and in each case, giving them examples (companies, situations, scenarios) where these solutions have delivered results or improvements.
Other methods of writing solution sections include writing towards different reading personas, using graphics or statistics to back up your end points, or even additional data in the form of downloads that allow more in-depth stats or real world examples.
By the time the reader has got to this point, they are likely to be looking for the briefest of conclusions. By that, I mean a sentence or two reviewing the problem, the solutions, the overall conclusion, and any final, strong statement which corroborates, elucidates, and validates everything you have written.
Talking of concise conclusions, that's it for now, I'm off tor continue writing my next white paper...