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What is a White Paper and How Do You Write One?

The term “white paper” can mean different things to professionals depending on what sector of industry they’re in. So what is a white paper? How do you write one? What items need to be included in a white paper? And why would you write one?

We’re here to answer all of those questions and more about white papers.

A White Paper is Essentially an In-Depth Report

Remember those in-depth reports that you had to do in your high school classes? A white paper is that same general concept. It’s all about taking a really complex subject and breaking it down in simpler terms to an audience.

The whole point of a white paper is to inform an audience about a problem and then provide solutions on how to solve it.

The term white paper originated in the British government. Its original meaning was a government document that discussed really complex or controversial policies. The business world started using this term in the 1990s to describe highly detailed reports that promoted a business’s services or goods.

White papers can be used for a variety of reasons, but they are mostly used to inform the public (or a particular industry).

How Do You Write a White Paper?

Unlike many other documents that you’ll come across in business, a white paper has no specific format or writing guidelines. In general, a white paper should be pretty meaty when it comes to text, and shouldn’t be any less than five pages.

This means that you can’t just call any document with information on it a white paper. A white paper will typically have a cover, table of contents, and then several pages of content describing the problem in question, facts and data about the problem, and then finally, a suggested solution from the business or industry.

Additionally, white papers look professional. A business that is writing and distributing a white paper should take the time to hire a graphic designer and a copy editor to ensure that all of the information is presented professionally.

Why Should You Write a White Paper?

Every business or industry has their own challenges they have to face. If you have an expertise in a specific subject and believe you could offer unique solutions to these challenges, then you might be well qualified to write and distribute a white paper.

Your white paper may help solve industry problems and may be used as a resource to many other businesses in your industry. This could translate into more clients or leads if you’re a B2B company, or simply just more respect and prestige for your business (which is never a bad thing).

If you are thinking about writing a white paper and are not really sure where to start, consider hiring one of our virtual assistants at Contemporary Virtual Assistants. We have assistants who are experts in copywriting and editing and who can whip your white paper into shape—as well as any other content writing that you may have that needs to be looked over. Give us a call toll-free at 877-554-0333 for more information on these services or others that our virtual assistants provide!

photo credit: new1mproved

Posted on November 24th, 2017 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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