What Is the Proper White Paper Format?

Do white paper writing companies use a specific format? This is a question we hear all the time. Clients ask because white papers are not something most of us are familiar with. That’s why we offer white paper writing services. A well-written white paper is a very valuable tool for establishing an organisation’s authority.

A well-written white paper is a very valuable tool for establishing an organisation's authority Click To Tweet

To answer the original question, white papers do not follow one specific format. Having said that, there are some standard guidelines broken down into two categories: what not to do and what writers should do. The point of this post is to help you understand a little bit more about white paper writing.

Five Things You Should Not Do

It has been said that white papers occupy that strange and ethereal place between marketing content and scholarly writing. It can be hard to find that place if you are new to white paper writing. We have developed a roadmap, beginning with five things that writers should never do.

1. Make Lines and Paragraphs Too Long

Sentences and paragraphs that are too long will turn readers off. Pay attention to the length of both. A good rule of thumb is to look at visual appeal. If text is visually uncomfortable, try breaking it up with smaller paragraphs, bulleted lists, or subheadings.

2. Ignore Page Breaks

It is never a good idea to begin a new section of your white paper at the bottom of the page. Rather than letting text flow freely from one page to the next, make use of forced page breaks that send new sections to the next page.

3. Building a Grey Wall

A single page packed with text is known in the industry as a grey wall. Don’t build one. Use things like bullets, small graphics, and other visual breaks to make your pages less imposing.

4. Making Pages Too Busy

The opposite of the grey wall is the page too busy with multiple images, graphs, charts, etc. Do not create busy pages. Look to find that sweet spot of text and graphic content.

5. Abusing Hyphens and Quotation Marks

Auto spell features have a bad habit of abusing hyphens. Humans have a bad habit of abusing quotation marks. Avoid both as much as possible.

Five Things You Should Do

Just like there are things you should not do when writing a white paper, there are other things you should do. This section is a bit more limited because the guidelines are not as strict. Nonetheless, employ these five things as best you can.

1. Use a Linear Approach

Use a logical and linear approach in your writing. Introduce your topic, state your case, and reach a conclusion.

2. Choose a Descriptive Title

The title of a white paper has very little SEO value. Therefore, it should accurately describe what your white paper is about.

3. Be Concise

The worst thing white paper writers can do is exercise verbosity. Don’t do it. Be as concise as possible while still getting your message across.

4. Write to Your Audience

White papers are intended to convince readers of an organisation’s authority. Write to them rather than for yourself. Write in their language, using words and phrases they understand.

5. Demonstrate Your Knowledge

Lastly, a white paper is a tool with which you can demonstrate your knowledge on a particular topic. Take advantage of that. Cite real-life examples, statistics, and anything else that demonstrates authority. The more knowledgeable you make your organisation appear, the more authority your white paper will generate.

White paper writing companies like Connotations do not necessarily follow a single format for white papers. But we do know what works and what doesn’t. We strongly recommend utilising professional writing services if you don’t have experience with white papers. If you do want to write on your own, remember what you learned from this post.

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